Community Meeting - Road Salt/Water Quality

  • Dates

    Tuesday, April 2, 2024

    4:00pm – 6:00pm
  • Location

    • Madison Water Utility
      119 E Olin Avenue
      Madison, WI 53713
  • Registration

    No need to RSVP. Show up at 119 E Olin Ave ready to share your thoughts!

  • Costs


Event Description

Community Meeting on April 2 at Madison Water Utililty: 119 E Olin Avenue. Hosted by Water Utility and City Streets Divisions

Please join us for a community meeting hosted by the City of Madison Water Utility and Streets divisions to discuss road salting application, including the impacts on infrastructure and our waterways, particularly our drinking water source. 

The safety and health of our residents is a top priority for the City of Madison. The Public Works Department is made up of five agencies – Water, Streets, Parks, Engineering, and Fleet Service – all impacted by road salt application. The five public works departments work hand-in-hand to develop processes and procedures designed to promote the safety and health of residents, while also protecting our infrastructure and cherished waterways: lakes, rivers, and especially our drinking water supply. These thoughtful City of Madison Streets Division processes consider the safety of roads with the protection of the City’s natural resources in mind. It’s a balancing act. 

The Public Works Departments’ overarching mission is to develop and maintain sustainable infrastructure and public facilities to provide our community equitable access to essential services so all can thrive. Certain processes are employed to achieve this mission.

Plowing roads and over-salting causes several issues, including:

  • Weakened infrastructure, causing future problems that residents would inevitably pay for through increased Municipal Services charges 
  • Salinated surface water and groundwater
  • Increased health risks for people on low sodium diets, such as people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart diseases
  • Harmful to animals (pets and wildlife) and aquatic species 

Madison Water Utility continuously monitors levels of sodium and chloride at all active drinking water wells, as our wells have seen an increase in sodium levels over time. The belief is that road salt application is a primary contributor to elevated sodium levels in water pumped from Madison wells. 

The City of Madison Streets department works collaboratively with the Water Utility (and other Public Works agencies) to protect our drinking water source, by strategically plowing/salting roads and utilizing other less contaminating methods to help keep the road safe, such as brine or sand when appropriate. Please note that salt is not a remedy for icy roads or sidewalks in very bitter temperatures; in a frigid snowstorm, salt application is not effective – it only runs off into the waterways and/or infiltrates groundwater, causing sodium and chloride contamination.

We want to hear your thoughts! Please join us to learn more about City processes in regard to road salt application/plowing and the potential impacts on our infrastructure and especially our waterways – most importantly our drinking water source. The evening will include a short informational presentation and an open discussion with Public Works leaders and alders.

We encourage any and all community members to come provide input that helps us better serve our community.


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