Will Cleaning Every Winter Sidewalk in Kitchener Create a Water Emergency?

Chloride (Road salt) pollutes some local municipal wells and streams according to staff at Water Services Source Water Protection Liaison Committee. Due to liability concerns, it is difficult to get salt reduced in winter parking lots despite the Region’s encouraging businesses.

Kitchener has just passed a winter sidewalk cleaning pilot. It is a great idea for pedestrians and the disabled.

Unfortunately, the amount of salt used on sidewalks, roads and parking lots is increasing due to climate change with its freezing/thawing and winter rain. It is reducing pollution from cars versus storm water management.

When the city plows sidewalks, one inch of snow is left. Salting is needed to keep the sidewalk safe.  Salting and brine get into the aquifer, storm water ponds and streams. Chloride will eventually make our drinking water unusable.

Kitchener needs to make sure cleaning winter sidewalks won’t hurt our streams and wells.

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