Reduction of Regional Salt Application
What is the Progress Indicator and why measure it?
Although application of road salt is an effective measure at improving the safety of driving conditions, the sodium and chloride from runoff significantly impacts the quality of water within the region. Over recent years, innovative new approaches to road salt management have enabled a reduction of the tonnage applied per two-lane kilometer of road while maintaining safety. This indicator, which includes collaborative efforts with area municipalities, demonstrates an efficiency improvement in reducing the application of road salt while the Region's road network continues to grow. Although salt applications by residents and the private sector around their facilities affect water quality, these are not reflected in the data within this indicator.
Salt reduction target
The annual target for road salt applications is 25 tonnes per 2 lane kilometre of road (established in 2003/2004). Weather conditions heavily influence the amount of road salt used, specifically precipitation and temperature which affects the accumulation of ice on our regional roads. Environment Canada is in the process of developing standard benchmarks and guidelines to better monitor the performance of road salt management plans.
Road Salt Management Plan Promotion and Implementation
Outdoor salting of roads, sidewalks and driveways is important to maintain safety in winter conditions, but it needs to be better managed to protect our groundwater. Salt can be used more efficiently and effectively without compromising safety. As part of its Strategic Focus 2004 - 2006, the Region expressed its intention to reduce road salt use by 10% overall and by 25% in wellhead protection areas by November 2006. As part of the 2007 - 2010 Strategic Focus, the Region has committed to continuing to promote and implement actions outlined in its Salt Management Plan. Some of the actions that have taken place are:
- A Department report on salt usage and impact to water supply up to Dec. 2007 was completed in September 2008.
- Water quality has been tracked in four priority supply wells.
- Trends in two wells stabilizing, but increasing in other two: one as predicted; the other greater than predictions.
- A Study commenced in fall 2009 to investigate and recommend snow disposal methods and snow storage areas for all municipalities within the Region.
- Regional employees completed training as Smart About Salt accredited site managers.
- Specific Regional properties have gone through individual salt management assessments to become Smart About Salt Certified Sites.
The Smart About Salt winter maintenance program which was launched in January, 2008 by the Hydrogeology and Source Water Protection division of Region of Waterloo Water Services is a voluntary recognition program for businesses that provide winter maintenance services, and the sites who require these services. The goal of the program is to reduce the over application of winter salt on private parking lots, roads, and sidewalks. The build up of sodium chloride in the environment is a growing concern. It affects not only our drinking water sources, but also impacts aquatic habitat and plants and crops.