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.
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