Q: Where does all the salt go? When we get a big rain in the next few weeks and the salt on the roads is washed away into the streams and such, does it ever have an actual effect on the salinity of the creeks, ponds, and streams? Does an extra slick winter give any extra impact on the salt content of the water runoffs? Does this have any positive or negative effect on the growing times of plants in the spring?
A: The secret to pollution is dillution. Salts cause dehydration in plants and animals. It is not uncommon to see trees and grass in heavily slated areas brown, a process called dessication. Commonly you will see the eastern red cedars along highways brown due to the airborne salts thrown up by cars. Water dilutes salt, so the more water content in the snow, and the more rain following snow, the more dillution occurs and the less of an issue the salt is. Cincinnati has been below normal in rainfall in all but two months since November 2009, so the dillution hasn’t been working out to well. In addition, there are concerns about broader environmental impacts. One article about this is detailed here>>>
Some plants are considerably more salt tolerant than others. Many maples are known to be sensitive to salt, but bayberry is rather tolerant. More good information can be found here>>>