To the editor:
We appreciate the recent article on salt (sodium chloride) impacting our lakes in Douglas County and the efforts of the County Highway Department to use road salt smarter ("Easy on the salt," Feb. 23 issue). We apologize for the misleading numbers we supplied for the article. In Douglas County, road salt is actually 70 to 80 percent of the salt affecting our waters.
Certainly salt from natural, industrial, and residential sources also has an effect on our community's water quality. ALASD estimates 80 percent of the salt flowing through the treatment plant into Lake Winona comes from softener salt discharge. Road salt runs directly into our lakes not through the treatment plant.
The salt applied by MnDOT, cities, townships, commercial and residential users affects water quality countywide. By using salt smarter, the highway department has kept salt use basically unchanged over the past 10 years even as the area of road has steadily increased. Every community member needs to follow the lead of the highway department in actively protecting our lakes.
Salt pollution continues to be a potential problem in our county. We must continue our efforts to reduce salt as well as phosphorus and other pollutants if we are to preserve water quality for the future. The MPCA and the Minnesota DNR have ranked many lakes in Douglas County at highest risk for significant decline in water quality. These challenges facing our community's water resources are some of the most urgent and critical in Minnesota. If our community can find a path forward that protects our lakes from increasing runoff, we can serve as a model for preserving all of Minnesota's water resources.
Douglas County Lakes Association committee members