LETTER: Like swimming in Lake Simcoe? Then we need to use less road salt

30 Jun 2024 7:31 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

LETTER: Like swimming in Lake Simcoe? Then we need to use less road salt - Innisfil News (innisfiltoday.ca)

Salt in freshwater can create multiple issues, says Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition executive director

Letter to the Editorabout 19 hours ago

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    InnisfilToday welcomes letters to the editor at chris@innisfiltoday.ca or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). InnisfilToday received the following letter regarding the amount of salt entering the watershed and its implications on swimming.

    The surest sign of a summer well-lived is a wet towel by the lake. What is not to love about summer swimming after Canada’s long winters when the water isn’t even wet? To preserve what we love will take some effort, but we know it’s worth it.

    As you paddle, swim, fish and sail through your summer days, consider that despite winter being long over, winter road salt is still in our waters. Most people don’t know why this matters.

    Combined with warmer waters, excess salt contributes to conditions favourable to the growth of algae. Freshwater fish cannot adapt to living in salt water, but more importantly, an increased salt concentration in water can influence the dynamics of food webs, including the tiny little aquatic critters that fish eat. 

    Lake Simcoe is on an upward trend for road salt concentrations. Ontario’s 10-year report on Lake Simcoe says, “The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority have measured chloride since 1971 at Atherley Narrows (where the water flows out of Lake Simcoe to the north) and since 2000 at stations in the lake. Chloride concentrations have increased significantly at Atherley Narrows and averaged across the lake.

    The lake-wide chloride concentration in 2012 was 44 mg/L, and in 2018 it was 52 mg/L...If this rate continues, Lake Simcoe will reach the chronic threshold level by 2058; the chronic threshold is the maximum concentration of chloride before constant exposure could affect sensitive aquatic life. This would be 11 years earlier than previously predicted due to a higher rate of increase.” 

    This should be something we can fix, and indeed, it is. Right now, eight community and environmental groups from Sudbury to Niagara are campaigning together for change through the new Ontario Salt Pollution Coalition. The opportunity at the moment is for citizens to support Landscape Ontario’s Snow and Ice Sector Group discussions with the government for limited liability protection and Sector Best Management Practice. This proposed package of reforms would allow the sector to do a better job, using less salt.  Indeed, it’s the risk of slip-and-fall lawsuits that is largely responsible for the over-application of salt. 

    While the community and environmental groups are aiming for increased protection for freshwater, we know a great opportunity when we see it. So, join the movement, and sign the petition to protect what matters.

    Claire Malcolmson
    Executive Director, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition

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