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  • 15 Feb 2019 1:47 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/rock-salt-road-freshwater-mount-allison-environmental-science-1.5019254

    osh Kurek is challenging his environmental studies students to think of ways to reduce salt use on Mount Allison University walkways and parking lots without hurting safety.  

    Scientists have found freshwater lakes getting saltier each year because of runoff from salted roads. 

    In Canada, the amount of rock salt used ranges from two to nearly five million tonnes a year, according to the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

    The estimate doesn't include salt used on sidewalks or by private homes and institutions.

    Mount Allison University, for example, spends $12,000 to $15,000 a year on rock salt, depending on the year. 

    Kurek said he hopes his third and fourth-year students can come up with ways to maintain safe parking lots and pathways free from ice, while reducing the cost to the university and the environment.

    Kurek said studies show that even a small area of paved ground near a wetland can increase the risk of that lake becoming saltier.

    "In many lakes that are surrounded by urbanized areas, the levels in those fresh waters have increased over several decades," said Kurek.

    "There's no cost-effective, easy way to remove salt [from] fresh waters."

    Kurek said it's an important issue and a timely subject.

    "I'm teaching a course in the winter time about lakes and rivers and wetlands, and so I wanted to connect the students with something that's happening on the landscape right now. 

    "Walking around campus, you certainly notice salt and sand everywhere."

    Amber LeBlanc, a third-year student, said tackling hands-on issues is one of the reasons she chose environmental sciences as a field of study.

    "We get to deal with things that are going on right now in the real world, real issues, and road salt is a major one."

    "It's in the front of my mind now."

    Kurek's class is working in tandem with another class at the university to help develop a plan to use less rock salt.

    David Lieske is teaching an advanced geographic information systems class to his fourth-year geography students. 

    "One of the groups will be investigating the 'hotspots' of slippery ice on the campus walkways, by gathering observations directly, through information volunteered by the campus community, and through predictive mapping using a geographic information system based on environmental factors that can be expected to bring about slippery ice."

    Once slippery areas are determined, those spots may require more treatment, while other areas may need less.

    Salt use has caused problems across the country. 

    Environmental researchers in the Greater Toronto Area are finding road-salt runoff is affecting local waterways to the point of damaging ecosystems and infiltrating groundwater supplies. 

    But Kurek said that in the Maritimes, it's difficult to know the full effect of rock salt runoff.

    "We tend to do very little monitoring of fresh waters and even less monitoring of fresh waters in the wintertime," he said.

    With climate patterns changing, it's a topic that could become more pressing, he said.

    "I think we can expect to see more of these freeze-thaw types of events, so that's going to require some creative thinking about how we ensure safe sidewalks and roadways."

    Amber LeBlanc is looking forward to taking a crack at reducing salt use.

    "The ultimate goal is to come up with something that's doable," she said.

    Kurek said at the end of the term, students will have put together a plan to present to the university administration.



  • 15 Feb 2019 7:25 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/video/watch/the-most-creative-way-of-getting-your-stuck-car-out-of-the-snow/vi-BBTCqcB?ocid=spartanntp

  • 15 Feb 2019 6:59 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/road-salt-sidewalk-at-how-much-to-use-1.5019166















    With this week's snow and a round of freezing rain in the forecast, many streets and sidewalks in Vancouver have been covered with a layer of salt — a good thing for safety, experts say, but dangerous for the environment if it's overdone.

    Egan Davis has more than 20 years' experience in snow and ice removal, both for the City of Vancouver and in the private sector.

    He said the city is "fantastic" at using the right amount, but homeowners and businessowners often use too much.

    "Especially, gosh, this last week ... the amount of salt that went down, in my observation, was extreme. The sidewalks were just white and caked with it," said Davis, who commutes around the city on foot or by bike. "I've seen people shaking bags out."

    With this week's snow and a round of freezing rain in the forecast, many streets and sidewalks in Vancouver have been covered with a layer of salt — a good thing for safety, experts say, but dangerous for the environment if it's overdone.

    Egan Davis has more than 20 years' experience in snow and ice removal, both for the City of Vancouver and in the private sector.

    He said the city is "fantastic" at using the right amount, but homeowners and businessowners often use too much.

    "Especially, gosh, this last week ... the amount of salt that went down, in my observation, was extreme. The sidewalks were just white and caked with it," said Davis, who commutes around the city on foot or by bike. "I've seen people shaking bags out."















    Davis, who also teaches horticulture at the University of British Columbia, said excess salt is simply bad for the environment.

    "When it rains, [salt] runs off and leeches into the soil and it can burn the roots of plants — I've seen plants die from this," he said. "And it ends up washed into the storm drains, untreated."

    Conservationists have also raised red flags about the effect road salt runoff has salmon, saying saltier water in spawning streams can increase egg mortality and lead to deformities in adult fish. The mineral is also corrosive to cars and bad for your pets.

    In Vancouver, trained city staff calibrate salting trucks so the right amount of grit goes on the roads. 
















    And the right amount does need to go down, for the sake of safety — Vancouverites are required to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks by 10 a.m. every day, or face a fine. Business owners can also be held liable if someone slips, falls and injures themselves on an unsafe sidewalk.

    The key, experts say, is using only what you need.

    "We do work really hard to find a balance between safety and using too much," said Erin Hoess, manager of street operations for the city. "But we would ask that residents only use what's necessary."

    'Walking across the salt flats'

    Davis said a good rule of thumb for people at home is about a handful per square metre. For those who buy bagged products, it's best to read and follow the label as each product has a different rate.

    He said you know if you've overdone it if you're crunching along the sidewalk.

    "You shouldn't feel like you're walking across the salt flats," Davis said.

    Both Davis and Hoess said it's best to lay salt down before it snows, but when the path is already a little damp.





















    Salt alternatives

    Road salt works best in temperatures above –5 C, which is fine for balmy Vancouver, but inadequate for many cities and towns across Canada.

    In Prince George, B.C., the winter months are often too cold for salt to be effective on the roads. Engineering staff use a mix of fractured rock and sand instead, saving salt for "critical" areas prone for slips and falls — like steps.

    The rock and sand option is also cost effective: the grit is scooped back up off the roads in the spring to be reused when snow comes back in the fall.

    "We just keep it in the public works warehouse until next time," said city spokesperson Mike Kellett.

    Other wintry Canadian cities, like Calgary, are experimenting with other options like sticky, sweet-smelling beet brine. The reddish-brown mixture isn't corrosive to cars, unlike road salt, and works in conditions as cold as –20 C.

    B.C. has also used beet brine on parts of the Coquihalla Highway where, again, it can be too cold for salt to work well.

  • 11 Feb 2019 9:51 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://lfpress.com/opinion/columnists/baranyai-homeowners-business-have-role-in-cutting-salt

    Recent warm weather melted a lot of snow, but as meltwater sluices into streams and sewers, it takes tons of road salt with it. Literally, millions of tons — an average of five million — are spread on Canadian roads each year, according to Environment Canada.

    Road salt dissolves with the snow and ice and washes into wetlands, creeks and lakes. Most of it is sodium chloride — table salt — known to adversely affect freshwater ecosystems, soil, vegetation and wildlife.

    Frogs and turtles — the canaries of fragile ecosystems — can’t survive elevated chloride levels. Rainbow trout die after a week of exposure to concentrations of 1,000 milligrams a litre. Some measurements in the Great Lakes region have found chloride levels as high as 20,000 mg/l. The chloride concentration of seawater is about 19,000 mg/l.

    Chloride is classified toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). But road salts don’t make the list of CEPA’s Schedule 1 toxic substances because they’re considered a necessary evil.

    Many municipalities are test-driving alternatives to reduce salting. Calgary pre-treats roads with beet brine to prevent ice from forming. The sticky solution reduces salt application as much as 50 per cent, according to manufacturer Lugr Enterprises, and it’s far less corrosive than salt. Other municipalities are experimenting with cornstarch salt brine and wood chips.

    Roads are only half the battle. About 50 per cent of road salt contamination in the Great Lakes watershed may be caused by excessive salt use on private property, according to Live Green Toronto.

    Environmental advocates aren’t advocating Canadians stop using road salt, just that we use less of it. “You only need a very small handful for a sidewalk slab,” says Kelsey Scarfone, water program manager for Environmental Defence Canada. “If it’s crunching under your feet, it’s way too much.” And people may not realize salt is completely ineffective at temperatures colder than -10 C.

    Some over-application is liability overkill. Corporate properties typically contract out plowing and salting. Contractors may not be educated in best practices, or they may over-salt to mollify clients’ fears of slip-and-fall lawsuits. Canada has a voluntary code of practice for environmental management of road salts, but there are no mandatory reporting requirements, either federally or provincially.

    Environmental Defence has joined WWF Canada and the Canadian Environmental Law Association in asking Ontario to create a provincial water quality objective for chloride. This step would allow for better monitoring of chloride levels, which is currently carried out by a patchwork of conservation authorities and municipalities, Scarfone says.

    So far, the ministry has been noncommittal, but its new environment plan does promote “best management practices, certification and road salt alternatives” as part of its action plan for clean water, working with municipalities, conservation authorities and the private sector. Scarfone calls the plan “promising.”

    Creating incentives for certification is a win-win opportunity, reducing both business costs and unnecessary salting. Scarfone points to New Hampshire’s successful Green SnowPro program, where the state indemnifies certified contractors against liability: a juicy carrot that removes the stick.

    In Canada, the Smart About Salt Council offers training and certification for salt application. Executive director Lee Gould suggests mandatory certification would be welcomed by contractors and business owners alike.

    “It’s a small business issue in my mind,” says Gould. “I’m not sure the personal injury lawyers share the same view, you’d have to ask them.”



  • 11 Feb 2019 6:23 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/environmentalists-push-for-alternatives-to-road-salt


    A citizen advisory committee is urging city hall to adopt more environmentally friendly road treatments for the snowy, slippery winter season.

    London’s busiest roads get hit with a cocktail of rock salt and beet juice to melt the snow and ice, while residential streets see sand sprinkled at hills and intersections to bump up traction.

    But what one environmentalist dubbed an “addiction to road salt” c

    omes at a price, some caution.

    “It gets into the waterways, it gets into food sources for wildlife, and then, of course, with infrastructure, it causes quick erosion of bridges and roads and sewers and the whole gamut,” said Mike Bloxam, a member of city hall’s advisory committee on the environment.

    Drivers have long fretted about the damage road salt does to vehicles, including speeding up rust.

    Bloxam said staff and politicians should investigate alternatives, including more eco-friendly products that can be swept away the same way as sand in the spring road cleanup.

    “I think there are ways we could plow (main roads) and apply other, non-corrosive, more environmentally friendly ice management tools than just simply always throwing down salt and being happy with it washing into the waterways,” he said.

    John Parsons, manager of roadside operations, said city hall’s use of salt – and the liquid spray, which is a mix of beet juice and sodium chloride – is part of its salt management plan, an Environment Canada requirement for any city that uses more than 500 tonnes of salt.

    London uses more than 40,000 tonnes of salt each year, spreading it across one-third of the road network.

    “We only salt our main roads and bus routes, because they’re higher speed,” Parsons said.

    The goal is to get down to bare pavement on those streets.

    It’s an attempt to find a balance between reducing the driving dangers during the winter season and mitigating the drawbacks of scattering the salty stuff.

    “We spread it for safety reasons,” Parsons said, adding that equipment and technology has helped improve practices, especially over the last decade or so.

    One example is the calibration on trucks, to allow city hall’s fleet – and contracted vehicles – to spread exactly the right amount of salt depending on the amount of snow and the speed of the vehicle.

    City crews also have the ability to spread a preventative layer of salt brine and beet juice on the road ahead of a snowfall, which helps stop snow from sticking to the road and makes plowing easier within a certain temperature range. That proactive strategy doesn’t use any rock salt, Parsons said.



  • 08 Feb 2019 6:41 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/lifestyle/smart-living/the-easy-way-to-melt-ice-you-never-knew-about-hint-its-not-salt/ar-BBTiMAe?ocid=spartanntp

    No rock salt? No problem!

    In the dark and cold months of winter, the last thing you want to do is shovel ice and snow from your driveway. We hear ya! While rock salt might be a quick fix for slippery surfaces, it’s not always easy to find once temperatures drop, either. What to do?

    Thankfully, winter-proofing your home doesn’t require breaking the bank on rock salt or fancy gadgets. You can create a DIY de-icer with items you already own, instead, according to Jeff Rossen, NBC News National Investigative Correspondent and host of Rossen Reports.

    This magical ice melter is easy to make, too. In a bucket, combine a half-gallon of hot water, about six drops of dish soap, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Once you pour the mixture onto your sidewalk or driveway, the snow and ice will begin to bubble up and melt. Just keep a shovel handy to scrape away any leftover pieces of ice.

    Why does this simple combo work? Turns out, rubbing alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water (128°F below 0), so it speeds up the melting process and prevent the surface from icing up in the future, Rossen says. He also recommends pouring the mixture into a spray bottle and using it to thaw your car windows.

    But that’s not the only winter driving hack that won’t cost you a dime. Check out the genius reason you should keep a nail file in your car this winter.


  • 07 Feb 2019 9:13 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.niagara-news.com/the-cost-of-ice-free-roads/

    Rising salt levels and harmful chemicals in lakes are affecting the quality of drinking water.

    Canadians are used to snow, so whenever it snows they go into the same routine: shovel the snow from the driveway and sidewalk then put down salt. And when they’re done, they go back to their daily lives not realizing the damage they’re causing to the environment.

    The 2018 Back to Basics, Ontario’s environmental commissioner report, argues the importance of caring more about the environment.

    “It (the government) should do more to protect Ontario’s water,” said Dianne Saxe, environmental commissioner of Ontario.

    In the Back to Basics release, Saxe expressed her concern for water pollution, saying: “This is no time for the government to turn its back on source-water protection.”

    The four most significant sources that pollute Ontario’s water are raw municipal sewage, agricultural runoff, toxic industrial wastewater and road salt.

    Ontario uses salt to melt snow in winter to keep roadways and walkways safe for the public. Road salt is making its way into Ontario’s lakes, rivers and groundwater, polluting the water and posing a threat to aquatic plants and animals.

    Salt affects plant and animal cells. It also blocks the water’s normal mixing process, which is essential to bring oxygen to the deep water. Salty water helps to dissolve the bond between metals and sediments, which makes it harmful to plants and animals, according to Back to Basics.

    The application and storing of road salt and salt-saturated snow are three of the 22 prescribed drinking water threats under the Clean Water Act. Many municipalities find it difficult to reduce salt threats to Ontario’s water supplies.

    Ten years after the Clean Water Act, many municipalities have made little or no progress in addressing the threats.

    “In Simcoe, sodium (salt) levels in the town’s drinking water became so high in 2017 that the Haldimand-Norfolk health officer issued a ‘do not consume’ warning for people with high blood pressure and sodium-restricted diets,” according to Back to Basics.

    Look at Frenchman’s Bay for example: Salt from “plowed snow” and “runoff from paved areas,” including nearby Highway 401 has caused the Bay’s chloride levels to be double the amount found in Lake Ontario generally, according to a 2010 study.

    The rest of the salt either goes into other nearby bodies of water or goes into groundwater. This change in chloride levels affects the “number and age structure” of the fish.

    But salt is not just bad for the water, it’s also bad for the environment as a whole. Road salt harms soil, clothing, injures animal paws, cars, sidewalks and infrastructure, causing higher maintenance costs.

    According to the Canadian Water Quality Guideline, average chloride levels in freshwater should be below 120 milligrams per litre, and in short-term peaks below 640 milligrams per litre. However, if you look at Hotchkiss Creek’s chloride levels, you’ll see it exceeds the average amount as it goes over 6,000 milligrams per litre. Similar readings have been found in many Toronto area creeks, such as Etobicoke and Mimico creeks.

    According to the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, chronic chloride levels in several of its creeks read well above 1,000 milligrams per litre and acute levels as high as 18,000 milligrams per litre. This is close to the chloride levels found in seawater, which is 19,400 milligrams per litre.

    Back to Basics says that climate change also affects the chloride levels as it brings more extreme weather and chloride concentrations tend to be higher in years with “more precipitation” and “total snow depth.”

    According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, about five million tons of road salt is spread on roads across Canada each year.

    In May 2018, changes to the Municipal Act regulations made municipalities responsible for snow and ice removal on sidewalks and bike lanes. But even though this change will provide safe roads and sidewalks, it’s going to result in even more salt use.

    Road salt ineffective in temperatures of -18.

    “The City of St. Catharines used approximately 10,000 tons of salt last winter,” says Mark Green, manager of environmental services.

    The Ontario government formally recognized the harm of using road salt in 1975.

    Other ways to de-ice snow, such as using calcium magnesium acetate, magnesium chloride or calcium chloride, exist but are often rejected because of their higher product cost.

    Some municipalities, including Calgary, use beet brine for de-icing because it is less toxic and less destructive than road salt.

    The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has successfully decreased the amount of road salt used on provincial highways while maintaining a high level of road safety.

    According to the Back to Basics report, technologies such as using anti-icing liquids on roads before a winter storm helps prevent snow and ice from bonding with road surfaces, helping to reduce the amount of salt used.

    Pre-wetting the salt with anti-icing liquids is another method used that helps the salt to stick on the roads.

    The Ministry of Transportation has installed “Fixed Automated Spray Technology” and an “Advanced Road Weather Information System” at the Highway 401/416 interchange near Prescott, Ont.

    And because the systems work together in applying anti-icing chemicals before a storm, salt has been used less and in a more effective way.



  • 07 Feb 2019 6:23 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-jersey-residents-may-be-hit-with-rain-tax

    New Jersey residents could soon be hit with what Republicans are calling a "rain tax," if Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signs newly passed legislation.

    The bill, approved by the New Jersey Assembly and the Senate, would allow municipalities to create utilities that can collect fees from homeowners and business owners that have large paved surfaces, like driveways and parking lots. During storms, rainwater mixes with pollutants on those surfaces before running into sewers and drains. The funding from the fees could be used for upgrades to reduce the impact on the environment.

    “With all the salt that we’ve had on roads recently, that’s all running into the sewer systems, so you can’t ignore the problems because they don’t go away,” Senate President Steve Sweeney told CBS New York.

    State Sen. Richard Codey called the legislation necessary, telling CBS New York that the state’s economy is based on the shore.

    “We gotta make sure we keep it that way,” he said.

    But Republicans have blasted the plan, dubbing it a “rain tax,” and complaining the state already has implemented too many costs on residents.

    “We all want to protect our environment. We all want to preserve it for future generations, but this is a weighted tax,” Sen. Tom Kean Jr. told CBS New York. “The citizens of New Jersey…really [have] no way to defend themselves against tax increases at local levels.”

    The bill would establish a “Clean Stormwater and Floor Reduction Fund,” which would be used for stormwater utilities in the state, as well as water quality monitoring, pollution reduction projects and outreach programs, according to the legislation.

    “Under the bill, a county, municipality, or authority (local unit) that establishes a stormwater utility is authorized to charge and collect reasonable fees and other charges to recover the stormwater utility’s costs for stormwater management,” the bill reads.

    The bill would allow the utilities to go after people who don't pay and charge interest on unpaid fees, effectively constituting a tax lien—the same method used on delinquent property taxes.

    The governor’s office told Fox News on Wednesday that they would not comment on the pending legislation, when asked if Murphy would sign the bill. But local reports suggest Murphy will sign the legislation.



  • 01 Feb 2019 7:59 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Solar roads provide cheap renewable power where it's needed and have the added bonus of melting ice and snow. France built the first solar road in 2016, but China has completed the world's first solar expressway, which is situated in the city of Jinan. Slide 13 of 29: Solar roads provide cheap renewable power where it's needed and have the added bonus of melting ice and snow. France built the first solar road in 2016, but China has completed the world's first solar expressway, which is situated in the city of Jinan.


  • 01 Feb 2019 6:14 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)


    Rather than spreading salt around your property, consider more environmentally alternatives like sand, non-clumping kitty litter, or even fireplace ashes. The GreenUP Store also carries Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish, an ice-melter that's gentle on vegetation, concrete, water, and floors. It's not corrosive and is completely safe to handle with bare hands, so it's safer around children and pets too. It also more effective than salt when it's extremely cold, as it will continues to melt ice at -22° C. (Photo: Karen Halley)Rather than spreading salt around your property, consider more environmentally alternatives like sand, non-clumping kitty litter, or even fireplace ashes. The GreenUP Store also carries Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish, an ice-melter that's gentle on vegetation, concrete, water, and floors. It's not corrosive and is completely safe to handle with bare hands, so it's safer around children and pets too. It also more effective than salt when it's extremely cold, as it will continues to melt ice at -22° C. (Photo: Karen Halley)

    We waited long enough for its arrival and now that it’s here, let’s hope the snow is here to stay — at least for a while!

    While the snow makes the landscape look lovely this time of year, and many winter enthusiasts are happy to finally be hitting the ski slopes and trails, getting around can be stressful in snowy and icy conditions.

    Unfortunately, up-and-down temperatures along with freeze and thaw tendencies of our recent winters seem to leave us with sheets of ice hiding between layers of snow.

    The slush that comes along with intermittent rain freezes into thick, icy mounds making walkways challenging to navigate and some roads, sidewalks, and driveways deceptively slippery.

    Salt accumulates on roads and in snow banks and is then washed into storm drains during thaws. Responsible spreading of salt by homeowners can reduce the amount of salt washed into storm drains and into our waterways.Salt accumulates on roads and in snow banks and is then washed into storm drains during thaws. Responsible spreading of salt by homeowners can reduce the amount of salt washed into storm drains and into our waterways.

    Salt (sodium chloride) is commonly used for reducing the amount of ice around homes, on sidewalks, and on many commercial properties. It is relatively inexpensive and it works quickly to break up ice, making it easier to clear, but there are many reasons to rethink its use around your home or office.

    Before you bring out the salt, consider its impact on your property, your pets, and the environment.

    Salt is corrosive and can cause damage to vehicles and bikes. It is easily tracked inside on the treads of boots causing damage to footwear, carpets, rugs, and flooring. If you have pets, salt can irritate paws and it can be harmful if ingested.

    Five million tonnes of road salt is used in Canada each year to keep our roads safe during winter conditions; undoubtedly this has reduced the number of vehicle accidents, but it does come with a cost to the environment.(Photo: Karen Halley)Five million tonnes of road salt is used in Canada each year to keep our roads safe during winter conditions; undoubtedly this has reduced the number of vehicle accidents, but it does come with a cost to the environment.(Photo: Karen Halley)

    Salt impacts your gardens too. It can raise the pH of your soil and make it less fertile. The health of trees, shrubs, grasses, and plants that line salted driveways and walkways can deteriorate if the concentration of salt becomes too high. Root systems are easily damaged by salt, making uptake of water difficult for plants. The drought-like conditions created by excess salt causes plants to dry out.

    Spreading sidewalk salt can have a negative effect on your property, but it is also important to recognize that the impacts extend beyond your yard.

    Salt dissolves in water, which means that it is easily carried into groundwater. Once the spring thaw and April showers hit, salt runs off into storm sewers increasing concentration in our waterways, and affecting plants and animals in our rivers, streams, and lakes.

    “The increased salinization of freshwater waterways is a growing concern for many areas of Ontario,” explains Heather Ray, GreenUP’s manager of water programs.

    “Salt interacts with the bonds between heavy metals and sediments, which can increase harm to aquatic species. Salt can block the movement of oxygen into deeper, cooler water, impacting aquatic species such as lake trout.

    “In some locations within Ontario, saltwater species are being found in freshwater areas because of the water’s high salinity. High salt levels in water can also impact drinking water.”

    According to Back to Basics: Clean Water, a recent report by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Back to Basics: Clean Water,” in 2017 the Town of Simcoe experienced high salt levels in the town’s drinking water, which resulted in the Haldimand-Norfolk health officer to issue a “do not consume” warning for people with high blood pressure and sodium-restricted diets.

    It’s very concerning to think that all the road salt use throughout the season could cause such a drastic impact. In the City of Peterborough, straight salt is used on all arterial and collector streets only when weather conditions and temperatures allow for its use, and a mix of sand and salt is used on all of our residential streets.

    “The responsible use of salt lays within the hands of all that use it,” says Brian Jobbit, the City of Peterborough’s manager of public works. “Our fleet of trucks is equipped with plows and material spreaders that are all computer-controlled for application rates based on the material being spread.

    “The application rates for salt are reduced in accordance with our source water protection zones and we report our salt usage annually to Environment Canada. Each year we retrain all of our staff on winter control techniques and the application of materials at the right time, right rate, and right place so we stay diligent in the use of our winter materials, such as salt.”

    A mixture of salt and sand (called pickle) is often applied to roads to melt ice while improving traction. In the City of Peterborough, snow plows are equipped with computer controlled application rates for these materials to optimize their use according to set standards. (Photo: Karen Halley)A mixture of salt and sand (called pickle) is often applied to roads to melt ice while improving traction. In the City of Peterborough, snow plows are equipped with computer controlled application rates for these materials to optimize their use according to set standards. (Photo: Karen Halley)

    Approximately five million tonnes of road salt is applied in Canada each year. Undoubtedly, this has reduced the number of accidents and injuries associated with icy winter conditions but this comes with a cost to the environment. We expect that climate change will bring more extreme weather and unfortunately, it has been shown that chloride concentrations are higher in years with more precipitation and total snow depth.

    “Salt is a relatively low concern for our local waterways,” Ray adds. “But as the water within our watershed flows downstream to Lake Ontario, the accumulation of salt creates concern for other waterways and communities. Reducing the amount of salt we use in our area can go a long way to reduce salt in the waters that we share with our neighbours.”

    There are many products on the market that work much like salt, but without the environmental impacts. On a large scale, many municipalities are opting for salt alternatives when de-icing roadways. Several cities in Quebec use an organic spray made from sugar beets to remove ice from roads.

    For years, Toronto has also used the same beet mixture to de-ice roads. The solution is more expensive but it has less impact on the environment and is used when temperatures dip below the point of salt’s effectiveness, which is at -10° C; the beet solution works to -32° C.

    For around your home, there are many alternatives to salt that can help to improve slippery conditions. Sand is a common alternative that creates traction in icy areas. Non-clumping kitty litter and fireplace ashes are also great substitutes. Just be sure not to track them indoors where they can make a mess.

    Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish, an environmentally friendly alternative to salt, is available at the GreenUP Store at 378 Aylmer St. N. in downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Karen Halley)Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish, an environmentally friendly alternative to salt, is available at the GreenUP Store at 378 Aylmer St. N. in downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Karen Halley)

    The GreenUP Store (378 Aylmer St. N., Peterborough) carries a product called Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish that is gentle on vegetation, concrete, water, and floors. It is not corrosive and is completely safe to handle with bare hands, so it’s safer around children and pets, too. This product continues to melt ice below -22° C, so it has the capacity to work at the cold temperatures we experience in the Kawarthas, and beyond the effectiveness of salt.

    Whatever you are spreading at home or work, a little will go a long way. Use any de-icing product sparingly and give it time to work. Be sure to shovel first to reduce the need to spend money on additional products. Ensure your downspouts are directed away from paths and driveways to prevent puddling and subsequent ice spots from forming. If you must use salt, you only need one handful (about 20 grams) per square metre of area, so use it sparingly.

    Enjoy the beauty of winter and whether you’re on the road, the trail, the sidewalk, or the front stoop, slow down and take time to consider the best solutions for winter snow and ice removal that safeguard our gardens, help wildlife, and protect our water.



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