Scientific test kits give Muskoka volunteers tools to study road salt

02 Mar 2023 6:48 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

Scientific test kits give Muskoka volunteers tools to study road salt (

Volunteers are testing to see how much road salt or chloride is draining as runoff into some Gravenhurst-area lakes.

The volunteers, Citizen Scientist from the Gull and Silver Lake Residents Association and Probus Gravenhurst, are working with the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed to determine how road salt is impacting the Gravenhurst-area watershed. They are using scientific water quality testing kits provided by Friends of the Muskoka Watershed.

Studies show that Gravenhurst Bay in Lake Muskoka and Jevins Lake have some of the highest chloride levels of the lakes tested in Muskoka. The low calcium levels in Muskoka’s recreational lakes means that all animal life is sensitive to road salt, and animal life in 20 per cent of the lakes is suffering from road salt.

Neil Hutchinson, a volunteer director with FOTMW, has been studying local chloride levels and working with volunteers to determine how the chloride is entering the lakes. FOTMW has selected areas where water flows or drains into the lakes and has volunteers testing the chloride level.

As there are no natural local marine salt deposits in Muskoka, and the lakes with elevated chloride levels all have major winter-maintained highways in their immediate catchments, road salt is the only logical salt source, according to an FOTMW report by Norman Yan.

This is a pilot project, but FOTMW plans to roll out a larger program across Muskoka starting in the fall. Once data is gathered, to determine how chloride enters the lakes, the next step is to find solutions and modifications that can involve the whole community.

“We couldn’t do this work without our volunteers,” said Hutchinson. “It is so important to have the community involved, and helping to make a difference.”

Friends of the Muskoka Watershed is a charity that pairs action-based approaches with innovative science-based solutions to protect Muskoka watersheds.

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