Salt Management

It's time for a salting shift

Waterloo Region relies on groundwater for drinking water. Over time the salt - including ice melters labelled as environmentally friendly - we put on the ground can end up in our drinking water and cause it to taste salty.

After the salt melts the ice, it doesn't go away. Salt is damaging to the environment including our community's drinking water. It may soak into the ground to mix with groundwater or enter a storm basin that connects with the local waterway. The I Am Groundwater blog post "Is salt really that bad for water?" discusses the impacts of salt on water.

illustration showing how salt can impact the environment

Help keep salt out of groundwater:

Why salt is a water quality concern
  • Chloride levels from salt and ice melter are increasing in groundwater wells (our drinking water). Overtime this could make our drinking water taste salty.
  • Chloride is highly soluble. Once it dissolves in water there's really no effective way to remove it. Current water and wastewater treatment does not remove chloride from the water.
  • The image below compares chloride levels in Region of Waterloo municipal groundwater wells between 1998 and 2018. Red coloured dots represent wells with the highest chloride levels of 400+ milligrams per litre. A salty taste is detectable when chloride levels reach 250 milligrams per litre.

Water quality (chloride) at Region of Waterloo well fields between 1973 and 2014

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?
  • Friction and Parking Lots, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Friction testing show us that bare pavement is safest, as it has the highest friction value, and that the over-application of salt does not translate to safer conditions. The takeaway from this is that if you achieve bare pavement in a reasonable amount of time with little to no residual salt, you applied the right amount.
In the news

Contact Us