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Increased use of road salt is evidence of long, snowy winter

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation dropped more than 300,000 tons of road salt on state roads last winter and this spring, evidence of what seemed like never-ending snow.

The massive amount of salt is 47 percent above the five-year average, the Associated Press reports, and nearly double the amount of what was used the season before last, which was unseasonably warm.

MnDot says last season's snowfall recorded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was 67.7 inches compared to 22.3 inches in 2011-12.

At one point, crews in western Minnesota ran out of salt and had to borrow from other districts.

In a study being conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the increased use of road salt is threatening the state's lakes and aquatic life. The agency found excessive levels of chloride, mostly from salt, in 28 of 74 metro-are lakes.

Once the chloride is in the water, there's no way to remove it.

Researchers, public works officials, traffic experts and environmentalists came together in February at the 12th annual Road Salt Symposium to discuss ways to use less of the ice-melting agent.

State highway officials say spreading salt is not the only answer to keeping roads safe and are considering a lower winter speed limit. Reduced speeds would not only reduce crashes, but keep cars from blowing salt off the road.

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