THE COST OF ROAD SALT
TREE HUGGER – Mountains of salt are spread on snowy roads in North America every winter, and environmentalists have been complaining about it for years. But studies are piling up that indicate that the cost may be too high. Martin Mittelstaedt reports in the Globe and Mail about a new study of Frenchman’s Bay, a lagoon off Lake Ontario by University of Toronto Geologists. The conclusion:
“Our findings are pretty dramatic, and the effects are felt year-round,” said Nick Eyles, a geology professor at the university and the lead researcher on the project. “We now know that 3,600 tonnes of road salt end up in that small lagoon every winter from direct runoff in creeks and effectively poison it for the rest of the year.”
In the community of Pickering, east of Toronto, they apply 7,600 tons of salt. Half of it goes into the groundwater, and the other half right into Frenchman’s Bay.
The salt water “knocks out fish,” Dr. Eyles said, adding that in the most contaminated areas, only older fish can survive, while younger ones move to areas of the lagoon closer to Lake Ontario and its fresher water.
A University of Minnesota study recently studied 39 lakes and three major rivers, and found that 70% of the road salt ended up in the watershed. According to Science Daily.