It’s the time of year when salt is used to make winter driving and walking conditions safer. However, the salt placed on roads, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways doesn’t disappear when snow and ice melt. Salt mixes with water from melting snow or rain and makes its way into our rivers and lakes, and over time, harms the environment, wildlife, and quality of our drinking water sources.
“Road salt is a significant source of water pollution in urban communities,” said Amanjot Singh, Senior Engineer, Water and Climate Change Science at Credit Valley Conservation. “During winter, we’ve found local urban creeks with salt levels close to those found in oceans. High salt levels affect drinking water quality and threaten wildlife. We need to continue to reduce the use of salt to protect our water and our environment.”
Since 2005, the Region of Peel Road Operations has been using a salt management plan to guide staff on salt usage, salt storage and environmental stewardship through the use of technology, environmental decisions, skills/training and communication.
“Together with our local municipalities, we are committed to keeping our roads safe and clear of snow and ice while applying salt responsibly,” said Andrew Farr, Commissioner of Public Works, Region of Peel. “We continue to research new methods and alternatives to help reduce the amount of salt used while maintaining our safe bare pavement standards. For example, by using brine, water and salt mix, we can decrease the amount of salt required. Also, when we apply salt, we pre-wet it to ensure that it stays where it is placed and doesn’t bounce off the road, reducing its impact on the environment.”