This month and next, a lucky chunk of snowbirds will fly south. They will eat stone crab claws and fish the salty seas. They will sit beachside and breathe the salt air.
But salt in our northern fresh water won’t a vacation destination make.
In fact, the opposite.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University found an increasingly salty Lake Michigan could at some point monkey with drinking water and imperil its freshwater species. Salt currently can trigger ecosystem changes and water pipe corrosion, reports Bridge Michigan.
Inland lakes and rivers have it worse, with actual “salt shocks” that release heavy metals from the riverbed, hurting fish and wildlife and creating “dead zones” in some of our inland lakes.
Salting our roadways to the extent we do during Michigan’s long, cold winters has long-concerned the experts, many who see the equation as a fatalistic tug of war that pits human lives against environmental cost.
Luckily we are seeing more grays in this salty matter — and even some Himalayan pinks.
Alternatives, including a 23 percent slurry of rock salt and water give both the taxpayer and the environment a break. Technological tweaks cuts back waste and overspray. It’s great news — all we need to do is actually use it.
County road commissions need to get on board the salt-saving train, and drivers need to revisit their expectations of winter driving.
Is the commute in wintry, icy February going to take the same amount of drive time as it does in August’s Florida-like conditions?
Nope. Nor should it. Winter driving means slowing down, leaving space between cars and giving yourself plenty of time to get where you want to go.
It’s time to revise — refresh? — our expectations and driving practices to keep our waters healthy.