Hi, I’m groundwater. You might not realize it but you and me – we spend a lot of time together. You drink me, cook and wash with me and so much more.
When you turn on the tap do you ever wonder how I get there? It’s a bit of a journey for me. I get a lot of help along the way to make sure I’m clean and safe for you to drink.
Join me on my adventures! Learn about me – your drinking water. Find out where I live, how I get to your tap and what you can do to help keep me healthy. You can also find more on the Region of Waterloo website.
I want to hear from you. Share your ideas or ask me a question and I’ll do my best to answer it.
You might not realize it but you and groundwater spend a lot of time together. Groundwater is the water you drink, cook and wash with and so much more. Check out the I Am Groundwater blog to learn more. #iamgroundwaterblog
When asked where salt is spread, many people will probably say roads. It’s true; levels of service requirements in Ontario make salt the prime tool in keeping roads safe. However, a lot of salt is also spread on parking lots, sidewalks and community trails. Unfortunately, because salt isn’t regulated and can be bought and used by anyone, the data for how much salt is spread on surfaces other than roads is not easy to get or reliable. Compared to roads, the application rate (how much salt spread in a measured area) for parking lots and walkways is thought to be two to three times greater. This is where we have the most opportunity to reduce chloride application.
There are many reasons for potential over salting of parking lots and walkways that include lack of maintenance standards, outdated technology, and liability concerns. Municipal snowplow operators who clear the roads must participate in winter maintenance training that includes salt management principals and have access to resources and current technologies related to winter operations to maintain winter roads in the most efficient way possible.
Here are just some of the ways municipalities are better managing salt use while keeping roads safer for your community:
Snowplow operators receive training on how weather events can affect road surfaces and best management practices for salt
Road and atmospheric weather sensors provide operations staff monitoring road conditions with data to determine the appropriate course of action
Depending on weather and road conditions, some of the materials used may include:
Direct Liquid Application. This involves spraying a salt liquid on the road prior to a winter storm – referred to as anti-icing – to prevent ice and frost from forming and bonding to the pavement. Anti-icing uses less salt and increases the effectiveness of plowing early in the storm.
Pre-wetted salt. This is dry road salt with liquid salt brine applied on the dry salt before it is spread on the road. This helps the salt stick to the road surface and speeds up the effectiveness of the salt to form a salt brine solution on the pavement.
Sand. Can be used on its own or in combination with salt to provide traction when salt is less effective when temperatures fall below -12 degrees Celsius.
Salt brine is a mixture of water and a salt such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride or calcium chloride. The type of salt used determines the working temperature of the brine.
Snowplows are equipped with:
Electronic spreader controls. Predetermined application rates ensure the correct amount of material is applied by the operator who selects rate of salt or sand based on the road and weather conditions.
Infrared thermometers. Provides continuous, accurate road and air temperature readings to assist the operator in the effective use of salt.
Global Positioning System. Records the location of the snow plows and amount of salt applied. Operations staff can review the information to minimize the application of salt while achieving the required level of service.
Blade technology. Snow plow blades follow the contours of the road to allow for the maximum amount of snow and ice to be removed mechanically thus reducing the amount of salt required.
Enclosed storage areas keep salt contained from outside exposure protecting the natural environment.
Snow fences in strategic locations and establishing new hedgerows help reduce snow drifting on to roads, which generally leads to the need for less salt.
Parts of a snowplow:
Snow plow blade (front) – Mechanically removes snow and ice from the road reducing the amount of salt that is required to treat the road.
Snow plow blade (wing plow) – moves snow to the side of the road.
Conveyor – moves the salt from the hopper to the chute.
Tank – holds the pre wetting liquid to be sprayed on the salt.
Hopper – holds large amounts of salt the snow plow uses.
Liquid nozzle – sprays pre-wetting liquid on the salt as the salt travels along the conveyor. The liquid helps the salt work faster to form a brine requiring less salt to be applied on the road.
Chute – directs the salt from the conveyor to the spinner.
Spinner – controls the width of material that is being placed on the road.
Temperature display – shows the air and pavement temperatures so the snow plow driver knows when salt will work best.
Material application controller – allows the snow plow driver to control the amount of salt spread on the road.
Plow controller – allows the snow plow driver to move the front and wing plows.
How can you help?
Switch to winter tires
Drive for the weather conditions and give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination
Respect winter plowing operations. Operators are out to make the roads safe. Avoid passing a snow plow and show courtesy to the job they are doing.
When possible, consider leaving your car at home and taking public transit
Safe travels, Groundwater
Have you ever wondered what’s involved with clearing snow and ice from roads? Snowplows are not just a truck with a plow. Read this I Am Groundwater blog to learn about the technology and equipment onboard. #iamgroundwaterblog
I get it. Safety is top of mind. And in the winter, keeping your business clear of snow and ice is no easy task. So what do you reach for? I’m going to say salt or some sort of ice melting product. Along with the cost to purchase salt there are other costs you might not consider. My post “The hidden costs of salt and ice melter you might not know about” talks about just that.
Protecting the environment including me – your drinking water – is important but I’m guessing someone slipping and falling on your property is a more pressing concern.
What if I told you there are actions you can take to reduce icy areas? Reducing icy areas can mean less salt on the ground – which is a good thing for me – and allows you to better manage your risk from a slip and fall.
So what can you do?
Start with a complete winter maintenance plan. Being proactive instead of reactive prepares your team for whatever Mother Nature might throw at them.
Walk your property on a rainy day. Watch how the rain flows, pools or puddles on your property. This same water in the warmer months can turn to ice when the temperature drops. In other words, potential slip and fall hazards needing more salt to deal with the ice.
Here are my top five actions you can take to better manage icy areas and provide safer passage for your staff and visitors.
Repair leaky eaves troughs and downspouts. Leaky eaves troughs and downspouts can drip water on to paved walking areas that can turn into black ice, hard to see but easy to slip on. While taking that walk on a rainy day remember to look up for drips and leaks that can freeze into ice on a walkway.
2. Redirect downspouts away from paved areas. Downspouts draining on to paved areas can create icy areas that are hard to manage. Is it possible to move those downspouts so the water soaks into a grassy or landscaped area instead? Can you add an extension that takes that water to exit at a porous surface?
3. Close areas instead of salting.Closing areas not needed in the winter can reduce your risk from potential slip and fall hazards. As part of your winter preparations, identify areas you can close without impeding emergency exits, accessibility ramps or entrances. Areas to close may include outdoor patios, overflow parking, redundant walkways or stairs. During, the pandemic, there may be larger areas of your parking surface that can be closed and don’t need to be maintained.
4. Stop snow from drifting on to paved areas. Landscaping or snow fences can help keep drifting snow off paved areas and reduce icy areas from forming due to wind. Consider wind direction and elevation changes when choosing locations.
5. Store your snow where it won’t melt across paved areas. Where will you put the snow after it’s plowed? Store snow on paved surfaces on the lowest area of the property near a catch basin to stop melted snow from refreezing across your parking lot.
Now you know my five actions you can take to deal with the ice that can lead to slips and falls. Ready to take that walk? Make sure to grab your umbrella and this winter maintenance worksheet and map template to help you document those trouble spots.
Is your business winter-ready? Walk your property on a rainy day to see how rain flows and puddles. When temps drop this same rain turns to ice. Managing stormwater can reduce slip and fall hazards. #iamgroundwaterblog
Rock salt, like other types of salt such as table and kosher, does not have a set expiration date. Because salt – sodium chloride – is an essential mineral, it can never spoil. This is the reason salt has been used as a food preservative and seasoning for thousands of years. If stored properly, salt can last indefinitely. So there is no need to use it all up before the end of the winter season.
How to store salt until the next season?
Salt should be stored in a cool and dry place with few temperature changes. Keep your winter salt in an airtight container, as changes in moisture can cause your salt to clump together and harden. If the salt does end up clumping together, you can still use it by breaking it apart.
Wherever you store it, make sure to keep it out of the reach of children and pets. Winter salt and ice melter can be harmful if ingested, can irritate mouths and stomachs and, depending on the amount consumed, winter salt can be poisonous.
Sweep up your salt at the end of winter
Instead of buying more salt, save your money by sweeping up any leftover salt to use again next winter! Don’t forget about any excess salt that has collected in driveway corners, steps, or walkways. Leaving it there for the rain to wash away adds to salt’s negative effects on your own gardens, buildings, other plant life nearby, and your drinking water (that’s me!).
How to handle and dispose of salt
Since salt doesn’t expire, consider keeping it for next year or donating it to a not-for-profit organization or place of worship.
What you shouldn’t do is throw it out or pour it down a storm drain where it can impact the local environment. Even after the rain has washed salt away and you can’t see it any more, it never really goes away. The salt can wash into a creek or stream or soak into the ground to mix with me – groundwater, your drinking water; changing fresh water to salty water.
Never use salt as a week killer. Salt is bad for the environment. Salt robs soil of its moisture, creating a toxic environment for plant life. It is so effective at killing plant life that sometimes people will suggest it as a weed killer. This may kill your weeds, but the salt will also harm any other plants nearby and when it rains the excess salt can end up mixing with me or my cousins in streams or creeks. Caution should be used when spreading salt around plants in the winter as it can have lasting effects on plant life in the spring and summer months that follow.
What about water softener salt?
Never replace your water softener salt with salt meant for melting ice. Water softener salt, as opposed to winter salt, is specifically processed to be used in water softening equipment. Winter salt is unprocessed and sold with all of the impurities it brought with it from the ground. This may make it cheaper than softener salt, but winter salt has 95% purity, whereas softener salt has 99% purity. This difference in purity may not seem significant, but using winter salt as a softener for your water will only hurt your wallet in the end. Winter salt’s drop in purity means that it contains several insoluble minerals, like clay and shale. These minerals can clog your pipes, resulting in more frequent maintenance and repairs.
Save your salt for what it was meant to do – breaking down ice during winter months.
Winter salt can last indefinitely and can be kept until next season when stored properly throughout the year. Saving your winter salt for the following year reduces excessive waste and helps your wallet once winter rolls around again.
Winter’s over. You’ve put away the snow blower, shovel and ice chopper. But what should you do with any salt that’s leftover? #iamgroundwaterblog #SaltingShift
I know I like to go on and on about this but this time of year it’s really top of mind for me. And when I say top I literally mean top. I’m talking about salt and ice melter. The salt or ice melter put on the ground is on top of me. Once the salt is done its job of melting the ice it doesn’t go away. It can end up mixing with me and over time this will make me taste salty.
Help keep salt out of me. Ask yourself these five questions before salting.
What’s the temperature? Alright, it’s cold. But how cold is it exactly? The current local temperature matters quite a bit when using your salt or de-icer. Salt and de-icers work at different temperatures. It’s important to read the directions on the product packaging so you know what temperature the product you are using works best. For example, sodium chloride salt loses its effectiveness on ice when the surface temperature dips below minus 10 degrees Celsius. Sprinkling salt on an extremely cold day won’t get rid of your ice, and it will increase the risk of salt damage. Break up the ice with a steel ice chopper and use sand, grit or non-clumping kitty litter to create traction instead.
What will the temperature be in the coming hours? Check your upcoming weather conditions before adding unnecessary salt. Is the forecast predicting warmer weather in the very near future, potentially rising above freezing? In that case, there’s little reason to use salt at all. If temperatures are on the rise, let the sun do the work for you by melting the ice without the environmental damages from salt. While waiting for the sun to do its job, spread a traction aid like sand to reduce the risk of slips and falls. Once the sun has started to soften the ice, a steel ice chopper can also help break up the ice, followed by clearing it with a shovel.
Are there plants nearby? How close is the salt to your grass, or plants? This is an important thing to take note of, as salt can dehydrate soil and block a plant’s ability to feed itself. Be sure to use salt sparingly around plants, keeping both as far away from each other as possible. When you need to use salt, do your best to aim with accuracy so that none of it ends up on grassy areas or in plant beds – besides the environmental impacts, it’s also a waste of salt.
Where are your pets? If you have pets that go outside, remember that salt can hurt their paws, and should never be consumed. Although your loyal friend may want to help you clear your driveway, make sure they are not nearby if you need to apply salt. Following the label directions, and not over salting, will help you reduce the chances of salt irritating your pets in the future.
How much salt should I use? This is an important question that should be asked more often. First, make sure you read the packaging label to see what’s recommended. Fact is, the majority of people over-apply salt by a large margin. Although you might think the more salt the better, too much salt creates other problems including affecting me – your drinking water. Spread a thin layer of salt evenly across any icy areas. In many cases, a few tablespoons of salt for a one-metre square area of ice – about the size of a sidewalk slab – is all you need to get the job done. Using a salt with a finer grain will also help you to spread it more evenly so it can work faster. Also, if after the ice is gone and you still have salt, sweep it up to save for another time.
It’s sometimes just old habit to reach for a bag of salt before considering other environmental factors. Not only will over salting cost you more in salt, but poor practices also negatively impact many aspects of your lives, from your environment to your infrastructure.
How do you make the call on when to salt or when not to?
Once salt is done its job of melting the ice it doesn’t go away. It can end up mixing with groundwater – your drinking water. 5 questions you should ask yourself before salting. #iamgroundwaterblog #SaltingShift
Knock, knock! — Who’s there? — Ice. – Ice who? – Ice to see you!
Bet you didn’t know I was a comedian. But seriously, let’s talk snow and ice. If I were to ask you what is the one thing you can do to help protect me, would you say shovel snow?
But if you are responsible for snow removal whether it be for a walkway, parking lot or driveway; shoveling or plowing the snow is exactly what you can do to help protect me – groundwater – your drinking water.
The fact is, the longer you wait to clear the snow the more likely it is to be stepped on or driven on. And when that happens, the snow gets packed down, turns to ice, sticking to the surface and making it harder to remove.
That’s when in many cases salt or ice melter is needed. And if you have been reading my blogs, you know how salt really gets to me.
Try these snow and ice clearing hacks to help you limit your use of salt while keeping areas clear of snow and ice.
Don’t delay. Get at your snow before it freezes there! If snow is left too long or becomes packed down, it could turn to ice and become much more difficult to remove. Or, if it is a heavy snowfall, waiting until it stops snowing could mean a much heavier task. Do yourself a favour and get shoveling as soon as possible. When removing snow, remember to lift with your legs, and to take several breaks. Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, and strain combined with cold air can take a toll on your heart. If you have cardiovascular problems or a history of heart disease, speak with your doctor before attempting to shovel. Lifting snow improperly can also strain muscles, so remember to bend your knees, lift with your legs and take breaks. But there really is no replacement for good, old fashioned shoveling. Salt does not do what a little muscle power can.
Break up the ice with a steel ice chopper. Once you have cleared the snow you might have some areas where ice has formed. Try using an ice chopper to break up any remaining ice. Ice choppers also do a great job of loosening hard packed snow making it easier to clear away with a shovel.
Add traction when needed. If the sun is out and the temperatures are warming up, you might only need to provide some traction until the sun melts the ice away. Once the snow is cleared and you’re left with icy patches, you can use sand, grit or non-clumping kitty litter to create traction. This won’t melt the ice, but it will reduce the potential for slips and falls.
Check the temperatures. Before reaching for the salt check your local weather forecast. What is the current temperature? Is it getting colder or warming up? Now check the working temperature of the salt or de-icer you are using. Different types of salt and de-icers work at different temperatures. For example, sodium chloride salt works best between 0 and -10 degrees Celsius. If it’s too cold for the salt or de-icer to work, use a traction aid like sand instead. And if it’s warming up to above 0 degrees Celsius, instead of salt, let the sun do the melting for you. You might need to add some traction with sand while you let Mother Nature do its job of melting the ice. A steel ice chopper can also help with the ice and then clearing it with a shovel.
Use salt and ice melter wisely. If salt or ice melter is absolutely necessary, make sure to sprinkle on icy areas only. Salt isn’t for melting the snow. Leave the job of clearing the snow to your plow or shovel. It’s also important to give salt time to work. Even when you can’t see it anymore it is hard at work melting the ice. And a little goes a long way. In many cases a few tablespoons of salt for a one metre square area – the size of a sidewalk slab – is all you need. Check out an earlier blog I wrote on what you need to know before purchasing winter salt or ice melter.
Want to learn more? Check out the Region of Waterloo’s video with tips for clearing snow and ice. You might even see me making a guest appearance.
Do you have a favourite tool or tip that makes snow clearing easier? Share in the comments section to help others keep salt away from me. And if you know any jokes I could use help in that department as well. But just like me, please keep the jokes clean.
DYK shoveling snow is one way you can help protect groundwater – your drinking water? How to green your snow and ice clearing. #iamgroundwaterblog #SaltingShift
It might not be Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous but for me it’s home. Entering my home might not be obvious. For you, a knock on a door or a turn of a key, and you’re in. For me it’s a bit trickier. It starts with me as a raindrop. After parachuting in from the clouds I soak into the ground to recharge my home, the aquifer.
Groundwater’s word of the day:Recharge, also called infiltration, is when water is added back into the aquifer. This can happen through precipitation such as rain fall or when snow melts or from water seeping into the aquifer from surface water such as a pond or stream.
So what is an aquifer? First, to find an aquifer you have to look down. Believe it or not, where you are standing right now, there could be an aquifer underneath you. It might take some work digging down to get to it, but it’s there.
When you dig into the ground, what do you find? Dirt, sand, rocks. Theses are all materials that can be found in an aquifer. What materials are in the aquifer depend on the geology of the land and how it was formed a long, long time ago. Glaciers played an important role carving out the land. The materials left behind when the glaciers retreated or melted helped form the aquifers, including the Waterloo Moraine where recharge for some of the aquifers begins in Waterloo Region.
The Waterloo Moraine consists of thick deposits of sand and gravel, separated by clay layers, where large quantities of recharge help supply the water to the Region’s water supply wells. The map shows the Regional recharge areas of the Waterloo Moraine where sand is exposed at the surface allowing the recharge into the aquifers.
But make not mistake, recharge happens everywhere beneath your feet, not just the green areas.
Aquifers in much of Waterloo Region consist of sand and gravel with layers of clay. The exception is most of Cambridge where the aquifers are in bedrock.
Getting back to me parachuting from the clouds and soaking into the ground…once I have soaked into the ground, I look for spaces between the different materials – sand, gravel or bedrock. Those spaces might look tiny to you but for me, they’re plenty big.
Hands-on activity: Place some pebbles or marbles in a glass. They represent the sand or gravel in an aquifer. Look closely at the pebbles/marbles. Do you see spaces? Now pour water into the glass. This represents the recharging or adding water back into the aquifer. Where does the water go? Does it sit on top of the pebbles/marbles or does it fill up the spaces?
That’s what an aquifer is, an area underground filled with groundwater – me – in the spaces between the sand grains, rock or gravel.
And once I’m there I don’t sit still. Water doesn’t like to stay in one place for too long. So while I’m underground, I’m slowly moving a few metres per year through the spaces between the sand, rock or gravel. Eventually I’ll make my way into a stream and evaporate as part of the water cycle before parachuting down from the clouds to recharge an aquifer once again.
So there you have it. Hopefully you now have a better idea of where I live. And if you are looking for something to do that involves ice cream, check out this edible aquifers recipe. It’s a fun and tasty way to learn more about my home.
Groundwater is your drinking water. But where can you find groundwater? No. R.S.V.P. required. Your exclusive tour of groundwater’s home. #iamgroundwaterblog
It’s winter. And with it comes snow and ice. Which I happen to like because it helps recharge my home, the aquifer.
But I understand for you, snow and ice can bring its own challenges. Along with the shovel, ice chopper and sand, salt is a tool you might reach for.
If you’ve ever purchased salt or another de-icing product, I’m sure you have discovered there isn’t just one cure-all, but several products that promise different things. And if you want to help protect the environment, product labels can be confusing.
Did you know currently there are no labelling laws when it comes to de-icers? The product might say environmentally friendly, 100 per cent natural, or salt free. But is it?
Salt and most ice melting products contain chloride but how much? And it is the chloride that is damaging to me, groundwater – your drinking water.
Reading the labels of the different brands is important. Some products are more corrosive, whereas others are specifically designed to be safe around pets. Some products have finer grains to allow for a more even spread so it works faster and is more effective. The working temperature for these products can also vary making it crucial to follow package directions carefully.
Here’s a list of common active ingredients and the lowest melting temperature they are most effective. Keep in mind the melting temperature is for the pavement temperature and not the air temperature.
Urea (NH2)2CO : 0 to -7 Celsius
Sodium Chloride (NaCl) : 0 to -10 Celsius
Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) : 0 to -23 Celsius
Potassium Acetate (KCH3COO) : 0 to -26 Celsius
Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) : 0 to -29 Celsius
Sand : provides traction but does not melt ice
What to consider when buying your ice melter:
Read the product packaging to understand what temperature your product works best
The finer the grain the better – it will work faster and spread more evenly
Whatever product you buy remember to use it sparingly to limit its damaging impact on me, groundwater
When using traction sand, look for a product with little – less than 5 per cent – or no salt
Make sure to read the product instructions for your salt or ice melter carefully. Using too much salt, or using it when the product doesn’t work at all, will not only waste your salt and money, it will also negatively impact me, plant life and infrastructure.
When it’s time to buy de-icing salt what do you need to know? And if you want to help protect the environment, product labels can be confusing. #iamgroundwaterblog #SaltingShift
With winter here, salt is top of mind for me. Let’s talk about the cost of using salt (and ice melter and de-icing products).
The obvious one is the cost of purchasing it. For that reason alone, it makes sense to spread only what you need and only when you need it. And did you know you can sweep up leftover salt to save for another time?
Not that money is a big deal for me, but if we’re talking money, it’s hard to put an exact dollar amount on the environmental cost of using salt.
A National Post article “The awesome price we pay” outlines some of the costs of using salt. The author writes “Dalhousie University estimated that it costs it an extra $15,000 in cleaning and maintenance each year just to repair all the damage salt does to floors and baseboards”.
Sore paws. Have you ever watched a dog trying to walk through salt? Salt trapped in their paws can irritate and crack their skin.
Damage to buildings and concrete surfaces. Salt is toxic and will eat away at outside structures (brick/concrete/sidewalks), doorways and flooring may become damaged, increasing repair costs.
Health of soil, plants and landscaping. If sprayed with salt, vegetation can lose its hardiness to the cold and be killed by freezing temperatures and high salt levels.
Footwear and clothing. Salt stains and can ruin footwear and clothing.
Vehicles, bicycles and wheelchairs. Salt accelerates rusting, causing damage and increasing repair costs.
Health of waterways for aquatic life. Salt changes water density, which can negatively affect the seasonal mixing of lake waters. This mixing is important to increase oxygen levels required by aquatic life for survival.
Groundwater here. Let’s talk salt. I’m not talking beaches or seasoning but the stuff spread on the roads, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, stairs – pretty much anywhere outside you walk, bike or drive in the winter.
Don’t get me wrong, salt has its benefits. It’s easy to find, relatively cheap and for the most part does a good job of melting ice so it’s safer for you to get around.
But if you are me – groundwater – salt isn’t so great. Unfortunately, what is put on the ground can end up where I am and overtime that same salt and ice melter will make me – your drinking water – taste salty.
Here are my top six mistruths about salt that I think contribute to it being a water quality concern for me and my cousins in lakes and streams.
Salt doesn’t harm the environment. FACT: Salt is a toxic substance and is a pollutant to water quality. Salt is a chemical but because it is found naturally and it’s used in your food, salt isn’t treated as such. Like many things it is about moderation and only using the right amount when needed.
You can use an environmentally-friendly ice melter. FACT: Most ice melter and de-icing products including ones labelled “100 per cent natural”, and “pet, plant and environmentally friendly” use salt as their main ingredient. Even when you think you are using something environmentally friendly, it probably isn’t water friendly. Take a close look at the product labelling. If it melts ice it most likely lists chloride (Cl) as one of its ingredients and is damaging to water.
Salt works in all temperatures. FACT: Salt (sodium chloride) works best between 0 and -10 Celsius. When it’s colder, it is best to switch to sand for traction or use an ice melter that works at colder temperatures. That ice melter is still damaging to water so make sure to follow product instructions and only use on icy areas only after you have cleared the snow.
Salt goes away. FACT: Salt doesn’t leave the environment. It’s actually the chloride in salt that’s the problem. Chloride is highly soluble, meaning it gets inside me and won’t get out. Have you ever had a house guest who overstays their welcome? For me, that’s chloride.
Water and wastewater treatment removes salt. FACT: Current water and wastewater treatment does not remove chloride in salt and ice melter products from water. Removing salt requires desalination which is extremely expensive and energy intensive, and greatly increases greenhouse gases.
Salt is regulated and you must take training to use it. FACT: Anyone can spread salt. If the person spreading the salt hasn’t been educated on proper techniques and how harmful salt is to water, they often spread way too much or assume salt is the best tool when conditions say otherwise.
So there you have it. My six mistruths about salt. I’m sure there are others so I’d love to hear from you.
Salt is an important tool for clearing snow and ice but where groundwater is looking it’s not showing the same amount of love. Groundwater’s 6 mistruths about salt. #iamgroundwaterblog
Imagine a day without me – groundwater. Not a day goes by you don’t use me. You drink me, clean and wash with me, and so much more.
Keeping me clean and making sure there is always enough of me to go around is an important job. One that everyone can help with.
Want to be a water protector? Here are my top nine ways to get started.
Take shorter showers. Cutting back on your shower by even a few minutes can mean less water down the drain and more money you can save on your next water utility bill.
Check your toilet for leaks. Paying for water you aren’t using isn’t fun. Did you know a leaky toilet can silently lose 300 litres or more a day? That’s like filling up three bath tubs! An easy way to detect a leak is to place a few drops of food colouring in the tank, wait 20 to 30 minutes and then check the water in the bowl. If the water has changed colour you have a leak. For where else to check for leaks visit the Region of Waterloo water conservation web page.
Limit the use of salt and ice melter. Chloride in salt and ice melter soaks into the ground and mixes with groundwater once it has melted the ice. Over time this will make drinking water taste salty. The Region of Waterloo has snow and ice clearing tips that can help keep salt out of water.
Support water education. The Waterloo Wellington Children’s Groundwater Festival provides fun, hands-on activities to 5,000 grade 2 to 5 students each May. You can help the Festival continue educating future water protectors by making a financial donation and/or volunteering during the event.
Use a rain barrel. Save on your water utility bill by watering your plants with rain courtesy of Mother Nature. Using native plants in your garden can also help reduce how much you need to water and create a pollinator-friendly space.
Set your water softener to the correct water hardness. Save on salt costs and help reduce the amount of salt going into the Grand River. Water hardness differs throughout Waterloo Region. Use the Water Softener Facts website water hardness maps to find the water hardness for your area.
Return unused medication to your local pharmacy. Help keep medication out of waterways. Never flush it down the toilet or pour down the sink.
Only rain down the storm drain. Storm drains connect directly with the local waterway. It is important only rain and melted snow enter the storm drains to keep streams and creeks clean.
Report a spill immediately if you witness or suspect a spill has occurred or is about to occur. A spill is the release of a substance that is harmful to the environment, such as oil, fuel, chemicals or pesticides into a sewer or the environment. Quick actions can reduce the clean-up time and protect the local environment.
I’d love to hear from you. Why is protecting water important to you? Do you have tips to help others be water protectors?
Groundwater is your drinking water. I hope you agree it’s worth protecting. Groundwater shares 9 ways you can help. #iamgroundwaterblog