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Town’s Salt Management Plan continues to evolve

Mar 19, 2019 | Environment | General

The Town of Orangeville continues to monitor its winter maintenance activities and consider new technologies and practices without compromising roadway and pedestrian safety.

Road salt is used as a cost-effective de-icing chemical to maintain roadway and pedestrian safety in the winter, however, when released into the environment in large quantities, road salt can have adverse impacts on ecosystems, soil, water supplies, vegetation, and wildlife.

The development and implementation of a Salt Management Plan demonstrates a municipality’s commitment to the adoption of salt best management practices, consistent with Environment Canada’s Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salt, and Transportation Association of Canada’s Syntheses of Best Practices for the Management of Road Salts. The Town’s first Salt Management Plan (SMP) was completed in March of 2005.

This Salt Management Plan (SMP) sets out a procedural framework for ensuring that the Town of Orangeville continuously improves on the management of road salt used in winter maintenance operations. The SMP summarizes the Town’s current salt management practices, and identifies future implementation goals for the sustainable and efficient use of road salt in winter maintenance operations.

Town staff began the process of reviewing and updating the 2005 SMP in 2017. Review of the SMP coincided with the introduction of new source water protection requirements under the Clean Water Act and the Credit Valley-Toronto and Region-Central Lake Ontario (CTC) Source Protection Plan.

The CTC Source Protection Plan requires the Town to comply with policies that regulate the handling, storage, and application of road salt on public roads and municipal properties located in source protection vulnerable areas. These policies are particularly significant in Orangeville due to increasing trends in sodium and/or chloride concentrations at several of the Town’s wells. The policies call for the reduction of road salt usage on public roads through the use of contemporary technology, alternative de-icer materials, and trained individuals in the application of road salt. The Town’s updated SMP acknowledges and addresses the requirements of the CTC Source Protection Plan, and endeavours to protect local drinking water sources while maintaining roadway safety.

While the Town’s 2005 SMP met the basic requirements of the Code of Practice, the scope of the updated SMP has been expanded to include changes in operational practices that have been implemented by operations staff over the last 14 years. The updated SMP also outlines goals for continuous improvement in the management of road salt.

Key components of the updated SMP include:

  • Identification of all activities related to winter control
  • Management of winter control materials
  • Recommended application rates based on different winter events
  • Listing of equipment used for winter maintenance
  • Summary of winter operations facilities
  • Record keeping practices
  • Training requirements for winter maintenance staff
  • Mapping of winter maintenance routes (plowing/sanding/salting/patrol) and
  • Identification of future goals and initiatives for continuous improvement in the management of road salt.

Some of the newly identified initiatives in the SMP include:

  • Ensuring all Town spreaders are equipped with groundspeed-regulated electronic controls to ensure the right amount of road salt is being applied regardless of spreader vehicle’s speed
  • Expanding the salt storage facility to ensure all ice control materials, including surplus materials, are stored indoors, and to allow for indoor product delivery and spreader loading
  • Expanding the public works building to allow washing of all spreader vehicles indoors
  • Committing to reviewing and revising road salt application rates with the goal of optimizing application rates
  • Monitoring and tracking road salt usage on winter maintenance routes to better quantify road salt usage and help inform future salt management decisions
  • Committing to training all winter maintenance staff in best salt management practices
  • Ensuring all third party winter maintenance contractors hired by the Town hold credible salt management and application training, and
  • Committing to exploring the feasibility of adopting new liquid application technologies.