Smart salting proposal returns to the Legislature

A proposal to establish a permanent source of funding for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) successful ‘Smart Salting’ applicator training has been moving through the Legislature, earning the approval of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee this week. Though a similar proposal has been seen in previous years but failed to make it across the finish line, its movement in both the Senate and the House signals 2022 might be the year it succeeds to become law.

Just a teaspoon of road salt pollutes five gallons of water, and once that salt is in a body of water, it’s nearly impossible to remove. In addition to polluting our bodies of water, overapplication of salt can cause corrosion and damage our infrastructure. During the frozen months seen in Minnesota, overapplication of salt on sidewalks, parking lots, and roads is a frequent problem, and the state already has 50 lakes and streams impaired by chloride pollution – with another 75 waterbodies nearing harmful levels.

The legislation heard this week would establish a voluntary certification program, which would cost each participating individual $350 to become certified. In addition to placing these salt management best practices in statute, it would also limit the legal liability of certified applicators who follow these practices. MPCA’s Smart Salting program has been operating successfully for several years using Clean Water Fund and Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund grants, but those grant dollars are now gone according to the agency; if this bill is passed, it will make the program permanent and allow for the ongoing training of salt applicators across the state.

The bill has now passed both Environment committees in the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support, and it will be heard next in the Senate Civil Law and Data Practices committee. (SF 2768)