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Road salt amounts must be reduced to save groundwater and lakes, researcher says

Water is becoming saltier and oxygen deficient

November 27, 2023  By Turf & Rec

Ontario’s groundwater and lakes continue to suffer with rapid salinization the longer it takes to reduce the amount of road salt used during the winter, a researcher from the University of Waterloo says.

Philippe Van Cappellen says that although salt is an effective means of keeping roads, sidewalks and parking lots free of ice during the winter months, it is taking its toll on the province’s groundwater and lakes.

Using Lake Wilcox near Richmond Hill as the focal point of a study, he said the amount of dissolved salt in the water has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

While the amount of salt has increased, the level of oxygen has decreased. Philippe Van Cappellen says when oxygen is depleted, only microorganisms will survive.


He wants to see municipalities set road salt reduction targets of 25 per cent over the next five years, adding it can’t be delayed another 10 to 20 years.


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