Being Salt Wise for Starkweather Creek
Starkweather Creek, an urbanized stream draining to Lake Monona, is one of four waterbodies in our region that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has listed as impaired by chloride. In total, there are over 40 water bodies in Wisconsin with chloride concentrations that are toxic to aquatic life. Deicer (road salt) used on roads, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks is a major source of chloride pollution in our surface water and groundwater.
In February 2020, CARPC was awarded a DNR River Planning Grant to work with a Steering Committee of local stakeholders and develop a Chloride Management Plan for the Starkweather Creek watershed. Over the past year we have worked on monitoring chloride concentrations in the creek, identifying chloride pollutant sources and management measures, and developing an information and education plan to reduce salt use. This effort has resulted in a Chloride Management Plan that will help promote the use of Salt Wise practices and monitor the resulting improvements in the watershed through 2024.
The Steering Committee for this project includes Friends of Starkweather Creek, Wisconsin Salt Wise, City of Madison, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Public Health Madison and Dane County, The Bruce Company, Madison College, American Family Insurance, and DNR. The Steering Committee worked together to develop the plan and will continue to meet to support implementation of the plan through 2024.
A GIS analysis of impervious areas conducted as part of the plan determined that nonresidential & multi-family driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks, typically managed by private winter maintenance professionals, are the most sizeable potential sources of chlorides in the Starkweather Creek Watershed. Not only are these areas the most sizeable potential sources of chlorides in the watershed, they also present the biggest opportunities for reductions, since relatively few private applicators have gone through the certified applicator training offered by the City of Madison and WI Salt Wise.
The Chloride Management Plan for the Starkweather Creek outlines information and education activities, focusing the resources available from Wisconsin Salt Wise, to be implemented through 2024. The plan also calls for continued chloride monitoring of Starkweather Creek and the use of survey tools and other social indicators as a way to track progress.