Don’t Salt Your Mussels: Reducing Road Salt Runoff is Good for our Water and Freshwater Mussels

Funding available to help communities reduce road salt runoff and contamination

As they say, winter is coming. And just in time for plunging temperatures and snowy, icy weather, Ohio announced some great news for freshwater mussels, the most endangered organisms in North America. Funding is now available to help local communities in Ohio make road salt application and storage safer and more efficient.

The H2Ohio Chloride Reduction Grant “will award a total of approximately $1 million in funding to local municipalities for equipment upgrades that will prevent the over-application of salt on Ohio roads and reduce the amount of salt running off into Ohio’s streams, rivers, and lakes.”

The Environmental Price of Road Salt Runoff

Plain pocketbook mussel. Credit: Hagerty, Ryan, USFWS

Every winter tons of road salt is spread on our roads and when that snow melts, that salt runs directly into our local waterways making the water toxic for mussels and other aquatic life, not to mention polluting our drinking water, leading to higher treatment costs and infrastructure corrosion.

On the Little Miami River, winter means salt levels can more than double in the river after salting the roads making the conditions for mussels dangerous and deadly. The Little Miami River historically was home to thousands of mussels per river mile. Many of those species are now extinct or critically endangered. Many environmental factors, including water pollution caused by road salt runoff, have decimated native freshwater populations, and make it very difficult for the few hardy species left today to survive.

Interested in making a difference in your local watershed? Now is the time to talk with your local community government about the H2Ohio Chloride Reduction Grant Program. Municipalities, townships, counties, and other governmental agencies can apply for single grants of up to $75,000 through Jan. 31, 2024. Learn more about the grant and apply.

Supporting Ohio River Foundation and our restoration and education efforts ensures that our community values and has access to a healthy watershed and the amazing creatures living there.

Learn more and support Ohio River Foundation’s work to protect and preserve the freshwater mussels in the Ohio River Watershed at the links below:

     >>> Mussels in the Classroom

     >>>Adopt a mussel

     >>>Support our work

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