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ACHD will stop using blue-dyed salt to treat icy roads

The agency said Wednesday morning they recently learned the tinted mixture can be hazardous to waterways "if used in abundance."
Credit: KTVB file
ACHD says road crews will discontinue the use of blue-dyed salt as a de-icing agent on Ada County Roads.

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — The Ada County Highway District announced Wednesday that the agency will discontinue its use of blue salt to treat icy roads after learning that ingredients in the tinted treatment can cause harm to waterways.

ACHD began using blue-dyed salt in 2015 as part of an effort to help road crews and the public figure out which streets had already been treated. The department first spread Chromatint salt, then switched to the product Liquitint by the same company over issues with the other substance staining roads and sidewalks.

"Recently, it came to ACHD’s attention that the Liquitint product contains two components that could potentially pose risks to the waterways if used in abundance," highway district officials wrote in a press release. "Although ACHD’s process to dilute the dyeing agent and annual usage rate fall well below the reportable quantities called out by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the agency has decided to re-distribute previously tinted salt and discontinue any future orders of the dyeing agent moving forward in an earnest attempt to mitigate any potential risks."

Some areas in Ada County will still see the leftover blue salt used on icy roads, but ACHD will no longer use the mixture near the Boise River or in the Foothills. Residents in areas where the dyed treatment is still used will notice a less bright color to the treatment as the Liquitint salt pile is replenished and diluted with regular white salt. 

"Once ACHD’s supply of tinted salt is exhausted, they may re-explore options to dye the salt," the agency wrote. "Any decisions to move forward with a colored salt will be made in partnership with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality."

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