FOSC’s New Road Salt Monitoring Initiatives

Volunteers needed! FOSC is undertaking two initiatives to assess the impact of road salt on Sligo Creek and its tributaries (Long Branch, Wheaton Branch, Takoma Branch and others). You may have read about how the use of road salt in the winter is hurting our waterways and, because salt cannot be removed by water treatment facilities, is ultimately affecting our drinking water.

1) To learn how salt is affecting the Creek, we’re participating in the Winter Salt Watch program of the Izaak Walton League. This national program uses easy-to-use test strips and the Water Reporter app to help track the impact of winter road salting and brining on local waterways.

FOSC is seeking dedicated volunteers to test for salt in Sligo Creek and its tributaries so that we can start to get an idea of the extent of the problem in the Sligo watershed.

If you’re interested, please read about the steps for monitoring on these Izaac Walton League webpages:; and

Then, contact us at [email protected]. We’ll help guide you in selecting a stream sampling location that you can safely and consistently access, since the Winter Salt Watch sampling program calls for several visits to a location at various times before, during, and after a winter snow or sleet event. When you contact us, we’ll also arrange for your pickup of one or two kits for use this winter.

The data from these kits will complement data already being collected through FOSC’s monthly chloride monitoring, and USGS’s monitoring station near Maple Avenue, giving FOSC, the Izaak Walton League, Montgomery County, and the state of Maryland a better picture of how road salt application affects Sligo Creek and its tributaries.

2) To help reduce the amount of salt entering Sligo Creek, we’re piloting a FOSC reporting program for excessive road salt “piles” (such as the pile shown in the photo above) in the Sligo watershed.

If you see an excessive amount of salt on the roadway, please email [email protected] with the day, time, and location of the salt pile. Photos are really helpful too. FOSC will be in contact with Montgomery County to try to get the excessive salt removed.

We’re planning to post updates and to create maps of the results of both programs as the data become available. Check the FOSC Water Quality page!