Warmer temperatures mean melting snow, some now concerned about waterways

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Temperatures topped 50 degrees in the Milwaukee area on Tuesday, March 10th, and that meant trading in the snow piles for puddles! The good news is that melting is happening gradually this year, so there isn't a huge concern over flooding. But what does concern some researchers is what's in all the runoff and where it's going.

Along the lakefront Tuesday, snow was melting -- running off into Lake Michigan. Experts say this week, water levels have risen as the warmer temperatures have led to melting.

Spring isn't quite officially here yet, but there are signs in the air that it's on the way.

All that melting snow is sending the salt we've used to make the roads drive-able this winter into our waterways -- something that concerns some.

"In some of the rivers and streams in Milwaukee like in the KK (River), there are times in which the salt content can be extremely high," Val Klump, professor and associate dean of research at UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences said.

Klump says sometimes that can reach toxic levels -- at least temporarily.

"I tell people -- let it go in today and there`s a chance you`ll drink it tomorrow. If not tomorrow, sometime in the future," Klump said.

Once spring has officially sprung, monitoring buoys will go out onto Lake Michigan and they'll measure things like salt content and oxygen levels -- giving researchers a detailed idea of what's going on.

"It's changing dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years," Klump said.

Klump says the changes are due to what runs off into our waterways when winter turns to spring.

How can you help? Klump says limiting the amount of salt you lay down during the winter and the amount of fertilizer you use on your lawn are small things that can make a difference.