How Does Salt Impact the Environment?
How we manage snow and ice has year-round effects on the environment. Understanding the impacts and having a winter maintenance plan in place well in advance of the first snowfall can help ensure your maintenance activities have a reduced impact on freshwater lakes, rivers and streams and the plants and animals that call those places home.
Summer’s top hot spots
When we use road salt, it doesn’t disappear. It ends up in our freshwater systems and once it’s there, there’s no easy way to remove it. In 2019, the WWF released a map highlighting the top summer hot spots in the Great Lakes region. They weren’t referring to the most popular beaches. The map shows local waterways with record high chloride levels attributed to the use of road salt in winter.
CVC’s real-time watershed monitoring stations also report high concentrations of chloride in our lakes, river and streams like Sheridan Creek. High concentrations of chloride are toxic to plants, mammals, amphibians and fish and affect drinking water quality.
Responsible Winter Maintenance
Road salt plays an important role in winter safety. We use it on our roads, parking lots and walkways to prevent collisions, slips and falls. But often we use much more than we need without increasing its effectiveness or when there are alternative actions we can take.
The Region of Peel and CVC’s Greening Corporate Grounds program put together a toolkit for businesses, commercial property managers and contractors with resources on how to manage snow and ice responsibly. The toolkit includes links to videos, guides, articles and websites on the following topics:
- Contractor maintenance and procurement
- Certification and training
- Do-it-yourself quick wins
- Promoting winter safety at work
Greening Corporate Grounds can help
If you’d like to learn more about creating a winter maintenance plan or how green infrastructure, like permeable pavement, can help you better manage snow and ice on your commercial property. Book your free Sustainable Landscaping Assessment with Greening Corporate Grounds.
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