Basalt seeks partner to test mag chloride’s effects
The Basalt Town Council is taking a couple of more steps in its quest to find out if a liquid de-icer called magnesium chloride is safe for the environment.
The council approved a motion Tuesday night to invite the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s board of directors to a work session to discuss studying mag chloride’s effects on the Roaring Fork River.
The conservancy is a nonprofit organization concerned about the health of the river system and its watershed. Solomon suggested the town could team with the conservancy to look for ecological damage from de-icer use.
The Town Council voted last November to stop using magnesium chloride on its roads until more is known about environmental consequences. The board also asked the Colorado Department of Transportation to stop using magnesium chloride on Highway 82 and old Highway 82 within the town’s boundaries.
CDOT declined to honor the request. The Town Council voted Tuesday night to send a letter back to CDOT expressing disappointment with that decision. The town also wants CDOT to supply data on mag chloride’s toxicology and on the de-icer’s effects on accident rates.
Councilman Chris Lane cautioned that Basalt cannot rely on any outside studies to determine what mag chloride is doing to the town’s environment. He noted that a study on the de-icer in Washington state has little relevance in the Roaring Fork Valley because of the differences in rainfall.
Mag chloride can potentially be diluted to levels that have little effect on streams in the wet Northwest, Lane said. But in the Roaring Fork Valley, there’s comparatively little precipitation and all runoff with the de-icer flows to the river in the narrow valley. Instead of getting dispersed, it gets concentrated.
Lane said Basalt should rely only on study results on magnesium chloride’s effects in this valley.
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