By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)  — The drip-drop of the melting snow is music to many Philadelphians’ ears unless you’re associate professor Alain Plante.

He teaches bio-geo chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and is worried about the amount of rock salt used by road crews to help melt the ice and keep the roadways safe.

“When snow falls, we get ice melted and we might get that followed relatively quickly with a rainfall event. Then you get a huge spike of this salt coming through the system,” said Plante.

Plante says all that salt goes into the sewer system, then our rivers and streams, eventually making its way into the water supply.

“Potentially a longer-term problem is when this salty water percolates into soils and the salt then can accumulate in the soils making the soils saltier, making the soils potentially less productive in terms of agriculture,” said Plante.

So far, over 40,000 tons of salt has been used this season, says PennDOT spokesperson Brad Rudolph.

But the department is always looking for different road treatment mixtures.

“More locally we’re working with Temple research on substances to use and additives to use on our salt,” says Rudolph.

Other states have mixed rock salt with pickle brine or beet juice but PennDOT has stuck with the original which research shows tends to be more effective.

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