In this issue:

  • Action spotlight: Mercury matters
  • Empowering homeowners to reduce their home salt use
  • Imagine a Day Without Water pledge recap
  • Promoting the right tools for Salt Wise snow removal
  • Remember your 2019 drinking water sample for chloride
Action spotlight: Mercury matters

Help us educate residents about proper disposal of mercury

This summer, the District conducted a survey of community residents about their attitudes and behaviors related to water. One set of questions in the survey asked about the prevalence of pollutants in homes that we’re trying to keep out of the sewer system, including mercury.

The responses indicated that most residents have some form of mercury in their home:
  • 72% have fluorescent light bulbs, including compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • 17% have thermometers containing mercury.
  • 7% (!) have liquid or elemental mercury.

A miniscule amount of mercury can cause the District's treated wastewater to exceed target concentrations for our region, so we want all this remaining mercury to be properly disposed of so it doesn't end up in the sewer.

Find newsletter content to educate residents about mercury reduction at the link below.
Empowering homeowners to reduce their home salt use

One of the most common questions we get in pollution prevention is what individuals can do to reduce their salt use at home. As a starting point for residents interested in reducing their salt use, we created a home water softener evaluation tool that can be used to assess the condition of home softeners. 

We based the recommendations in this tool on technical guidelines we received from local water softening companies on factors that affect softening efficiency, such as age and brand. If the tool identifies a user’s softener as inefficient, they’ll get a recommendation to upgrade their softener. 

In addition to this tool, we've spent much of 2019 putting pieces into place for a home softener salt reduction program that involves training water softener service providers on salt reduction and offering incentives to homeowners to improve their softeners. We are currently piloting this program with the Town of Dunn; stay tuned in 2020 for a probable expansion of this program.
Imagine a Day Without Water pledge recap

This fall, the District conducted a pledge campaign asking community members to make a public promise to protect water. We tried these pledges because behavioral research has shown that taking a pledge makes a person more likely to do the thing they said they would -- especially if that pledge is public.

We had participants pose with their chosen pledge on a water drop background (that's Greg Fries from the City of Madison showing off his pledge in this issue). To make the pledges public, we posted pledges on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The pledge concept arose as an activity for Imagine a Day Without Water, but we also hosted pledge stations for Pollution Prevention Week and the Harvest Moon Festival at the Lussier Heritage Center. Overall, it was an easy way to engage community members, so if your community would like to host a pledge campaign in the future, let us know.
Promoting the right tools for Salt Wise snow removal
This winter, the District and other partners in Wisconsin Salt Wise are focusing on promoting the use of tools that help minimize the need for road salt. We recommend residents have these items for a complete winter maintenance toolbox:

  • Shovel
  • Broom for sweeping up light snow or extra salt
  • Scraper for removing stubborn ice
  • 12-ounce cup or mug for measuring the right amount of salt
  • Hand spreader to achieve a scatter pattern of salt
  • Salt alternative that works below 15 degrees, such as a de-icing blend that contains calcium chloride
  • Sand or other traction products for when it's too cold for salt to work

Wisconsin Salt Wise is asking local retailers to have these products on hand so customers can put together their own winter maintenance kits at home. You can help by stocking these items in your municipal buildings and promoting their use by staff who clear sidewalks and parking lots around your buildings.
Remember your 2019 drinking water sample for chloride

The District requires customer communities that maintain their own drinking water wells to annually sample their wells for chloride and include chloride concentration data in annual reporting to the District. In addition to 2019 chloride data, this annual report should include all the actions you took in 2019 to reduce sources of chloride. This report is due on March 1, 2020. Now is a good time to start compiling your chloride reduction actions and data for next year's report.