Salt Management

De-icing salt - including environmentally-friendly ice melter products - can be damaging to groundwater, our drinking water. The salt spread on the ground can soak into the ground to mix with groundwater. Overtime, this can make groundwater taste salty.

Help keep salt out of groundwater

This infographic shares other ways salt can impact the environment.

Why salt is a water quality concern

  • For drinking water, it’s all about the taste. The Ontario Drinking Water Objectives for chloride is 250mg/L. This is when a salty taste may be detectable by some people. De-icing salt including environmentally-friendly ice melter products contain chloride.
  • Chloride levels from salt are increasing in groundwater wells. The image below compares chloride levels in Region of Waterloo municipal groundwater wells between 1998 and 2018. The orange and red dots are groundwater wells with chloride levels near or exceeding the 250 mg/L limit. Currently, the Region of Waterloo must mix groundwater from different wells to lower the chloride levels.
  • Current water and wastewater treatment does not remove salt from the water. Chloride is highly soluble. Once it dissolves in water there's really no effective way to remove it.  Removing salt requires desalination which is extremely expensive and energy intensive, and greatly increases greenhouse gases. Including desalination as part of the treatment process would also result in much higher water costs for the community.

Map showing chloride levels at Region of Waterloo municipal supply wells

What the Region of Waterloo is doing

Blog posts about salt management

Research projects and studies

  • Snow and Ice Control for Parking Lots and Sidewalks, University of Waterloo. Addresses the common question winter maintenance contractors face each winter: what are the right snow and ice control methods, materials, and amounts of material that should be applied under specific winter weather conditions?

In the news

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