Road Salt – how much is too much?

While progress is being made, still more to be done to protect our environment

The negative impact from overuse of road salt – and other ice melting materials – is easy to see for those living on busy roadways.

Scorched grass that quickly dies and native plants that won’t grow are warning signs that an unhealthy amount of road salt has found it’s way onto a property. These are facts, not conjecture.

Too much road salt near waterways is impacting several freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. The road salt issue – particularly it’s effect on the environment – is one the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FOTMW) is taking very seriously.

Dr. Neil Hutchinson, a director on the FOTMW board and a well-respected environmental scientist in Canada, visited the Chris O Show to discuss the road salt issue. He spoke about what we’re doing right, what we can do better, and how the government can help.

Several years ago they began the Halt the Salt program to bring attention to the excessive use of road salt. They’re continuing to monitor the situation, with areas of concern including Muskoka Bay in Gravenhurst, parts of the Muskoka River, and more.

High levels of road salt finding their way into the watershed is causing increased chloride concentrations in lakes near urban centers and areas of high road density.

Chloride is recognized as a toxic substance. This has resulted in water quality guidelines being developed at the federal level to protect aquatic life. However, these guidelines may not adequately protect organisms in low nutrient, soft water lakes such as those underlain by Precambrian Shield.

Listen to what Neil and Chris chatted about below or download and listen later.

As always, thank you to The Bay 88.7 FM for the studio time and production.

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