POTOMAC, Md. (WDVM) — As many are preparing for those snowy/icy days, Montgomery County wants you to be salt-wise and use less salt to melt icy roadways and sidewalks.

Over the past 30 years, there’s been a dramatic increase in salt levels in the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Because of this, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Transportation and WSSC Water warn residents of the dangers salt use can have on the environment. Salt eventually runs off into storm drains and local streams, which then affects 1.8 million residents in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Here’s a three-step method for residents to keep sidewalks and driveways safe: first, shovel ice and snow early and often; second, use one 12-ounce cup of salt for 10 sidewalk squares, and lastly, after storm events, sweep up excess salt for reuse.

WSSC Water General Manager and CEO, Carla A. Reid said, “Our water is safe, and while it’s not a health issue for most customers, increased salt levels in water can be a health concern for those who have sodium restrictive diets.”

The county also urges residents to dial 311 if they see large piles of salt accidentally spilled onto roadways.