EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Salt truck drivers in our region have been working hard to keep our roads safe for drivers.

But is a large amount of road salt leaving an impact on the environment?

Snow and ice are common in NEPA around this time of year and a simple scoop of salt is the melting solution for PennDOT, homeowners, and businesses.

“A couple of weeks ago during the storms, so it would prevent people from slipping as they walked by or slipping on the steps, going down and up,” said Jennifer Markozanis, Morning Manager, Lani’s Grilled Cheese Shop.

But is it safe for the environment?

Alex Jackson, Executive Director, Brodhead Watershed Association (BWA) says they’ve been doing research to find out.

“We know there’s a lot of road salt being applied, mostly on impervious surfaces like warehouses and truck stops and highways, and that’s where the bulk of the road salts is being applied,” said Jackson.

That salt melting the snow doesn’t disappear. Jackson says it runs off or sinks into the ground, burning or killing plants and eventually making its way into the nearest creek or pond.

The BWA has been analyzing five water samples in Monroe County to see if there is an impact to the base of the food chain.

Jackson says three areas in Mount Pocono were chosen because of how large high salt levels could affect the waters.

“That’s where all the local trout reproduce and they’re very important from an ecological perspective and also from an economic perspective because the local trout that fisherman catch down here, are raised up in the headwaters,” Jackson explained.

Jackson tells Eyewitness News, homeowners could take simple steps to help the cause.

“They can potentially mix salt with sand and use proportionally less on their properties. So a 50/50 mix or something like that. Sometimes with road salt, less is more,” Jackson said.

Jackson says another way to help is to shovel the ice left on the ground after the storm, “giving you the chance to reuse it again.”

The BWA’s research is still in the early stages and will be released to the public when they find out if it’s a significant issue in the Poconos.

Some tips homeowners and businesses can take to lessen salt impact are:

  • Less is more. Sprinkle salt sparingly— one coffee mug-full is plenty to treat a 20-foot driveway. More than that is money down the drain. 
  • Shovel early and often. This allows the sun to help clear your walkways and helps very little salt go a long way. And it’s easier on your back! 
  • For the most impact, once the storm is over, sweep up excess salt. You can reuse it next time. 
  • Consider purchasing a melt mat. For well-defined spaces like a front-door entrance, these electric pads can be a back-saver, without using any salt at all.