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  • 25 Nov 2015 8:44 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)



    The City of Toronto will spend $11 million on road salt alone this winter, officials said as they revealed the winter operations budget on Monday.

    Overall, the city will spend $85 million this winter to keep streets and sidewalks clear of snow and to fix any issues that may arise.

    "Weather is completely unpredictable and for that reason the city is going to be ready for whatever winter throws at us," said Coun. Jaye Robinson, who chairs the city's public works committee.

    Robinson added that after last year's frigid winter, city officials are hoping this one will be warmer.

    "We're hoping for mild temperatures," she said, on one of the coldest days of fall so far.

    By the numbers

    Some 1,500 workers will be tasked with clearing thousands of kilometres of roads and sidewalks this winter. Many are hoping for a gentler winter than last year's, when weeks of sub-zero temperatures wreaked havoc on the city's infrastructure.

    Here's the data the city has to consider ahead of Dec. 22, the official start of winter:

    • 133: Centimetres of snow the city usually gets each winter, based on a 30-year average.
    • 10,200: Tonnes of salt used in one storm.
    • 1,102: Number of city-operated winter work vehicles, including plows and salt trucks.

    Water main breaks are also common at this time of the year, though many are caused by aging pipes — some nearly 60 years old — as opposed to the wintry weather.

    There were three major breaks on Monday morning alone, city staff said.

    The city urged residents to insulate pipes, especially ones near outside walls or in colder areas like crawl spaces or garages. People should also drain the outdoor water supply, the city said.

    The city plans to spend $146 million this year fixing water mains.  

  • 17 Nov 2015 9:54 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)


    The water that supplies aquifers and wells that billions of people rely on around the world is, from a practical perspective, mostly a non-renewable resource that could run out in many places, a new Canadian-led study has found.

    While many people may think groundwater is replenished by rain and melting snow the way lakes and rivers are, underground water is actually renewed much more slowly.

    In fact, just six per cent of the groundwater around the world is replenished and renewed within a "human lifetime" of 50 years, reports University of Victoria hydrogeologist Tom Gleeson and his collaborators in a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience today.

    That water tends to be mainly found within a few hundred metres of the surface, where it is most vulnerable to being contaminated by pollution or depleted by higher temperatures and reduced rainfall as a result of climate change, the researchers found.

    "Groundwater is a super-important resource," Gleeson said in an interview with CBC News. "It's used by more than a third of the world's population every day for their drinking water and it's used by agriculture and industry."

    More than a third of the Canadian population relies on groundwater, including the entire population of P.E.I. and some fairly large urban centres such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph in Ontario, Gleeson added.

    Because groundwater is so important to billions of people around the world, Gleeson and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Calgary, and the University Gottingen were interested in finding out how much groundwater there is in the world and to get an idea of when it will run out.

    Nuclear clues

    Scientists had previously made a rough estimate of the amount of groundwater in the world, but no one knew how much is renewable and how quickly it's replenished.

    Gleeson and his colleagues came up with a way to figure out what groundwater was less than 50 years old. In the 1960s, during the Cold War, a number of countries were doing above-ground nuclear testing. This introduced a radioactive form of hydrogen, called tritium, into the world's water supply.

    The researchers figured that groundwater with high levels of tritium was renewed since the 1960s. Groundwater with negligible levels was older.

    By looking at 3,500 measurements of tritium in groundwater from 55 countries and using computer models to trace the flow of groundwater around the world, they were able to estimate how much groundwater was young and renewable and how much was older.

    They also confirmed the total quantity of groundwater around the world using a variety of data like the permeability of rock to the flow of water and how much water could be stored in different places, based on how porous the rock there was.

    A look at previous estimates of total groundwater showed the crude calculations were not far off.

    "When we actually went back and traced what the actual calculation, it was literally two lines of text that someone could do at a bar," Gleeson said. "But the amazing thing was that they were right."

    His team came up with almost exactly the same number.

    Plentiful but finite

    They estimated that the total amount of groundwater in the world was 22.6 million cubic kilometres — enough to cover all the land on Earth to a depth of 180 metres. The amount that was renewable was no more than 1.3 million cubic kilometres or less than six per cent. But the researchers said that was likely an overestimate due to the types of rock in the areas where most of the measurements were taken. Correcting for that suggested that the actual amount of groundwater renewable within 50 years was likely only 0.35 million cubic kilometres, or enough to cover all the land on Earth to a depth of three metres.

    The good news is that the amount of renewable groundwater on Earth is quite large —- three times larger than all other fresh water contained in lakes and rivers on Earth, the researchers reported.

    But it isn't evenly distributed. There was less groundwater, especially younger groundwater, in more arid regions.

    Gleeson said in places like California and the U.S. Midwest, people are already using "non-renewable" water that is thousands of years old and in places such as Egypt, they're tapping into water that may have last been renewed a million years ago. Such old water isn't just non-renewable on human timescales — it tends to be saltier and more contaminated than younger groundwater.

    In addition, overusing groundwater, either old or young, can lower subsurface water levels and dry up streams, which could have a huge effect on ecosystems on the surface, Gleeson added.

    He hopes the study will help remind and motivate people to manage their groundwater resources better. "And realize that it's finite and a limited resource that we need to respect and manage properly."

  • 16 Oct 2015 12:48 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The Smart About Salt Council was thrilled to have its Essentials of Salt Management Program recognized with the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority Education Award.

    Board Chair, Eric Hodgins was present to receive the award and participate in the wonderful evening that recognized environmental leaders in a variety of categories.
  • 17 Sep 2015 6:38 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Mitacs has announced that it will invest $2.19 M to fund the development of new processes in water treatment to support resource recovery. The project will be undertaken by the London, Ontario-based Trojan Technologies in partnership with researchers from McMaster University, University of Alberta, University of Regina, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Windsor, and Western University. The project will be supported through 140 Mitacs Accelerate internships over three years. The internships are intended to provide paid opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to bring their specialized expertise to business-related research challenges. Mitacs

  • 14 Sep 2015 7:14 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

     The University of Saskatchewan has announced that it will offer a new master’s degree in water security, reportedly the first of its kind in North America. The program will train students in issues such as drought, climate change, flooding, and water quality. “We saw a gap in current training that could be addressed with our university’s strong expertise in interdisciplinary water research,” said Program Director Andrew Ireson. Students will be able to choose one of three specializations: hydrology, hydrogeology, and socio-hydrology. The program, a project-based professional-style degree, will be offered through the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS). uSask

  • 16 Jul 2015 11:51 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    With updated course materials based on current research and leading practice the Smart About Salt Council (SASC) is pleased to offer the following tentative face-to-face training sessions for winter maintenance professionals, supervisors, facility operators and others:

    August 21, 2015: Southwest Ontario (Windsor/Chatham)

    August 27, 2015: Simcoe County (Barrie/Innisfil) 

    September 1, 2015: Niagara Region (St. Catharines)

    September 16 & 17, 2015: Snowposium (Ancaster)

    September 17, 2015: London

    September 23, 2015: Halton Region (Milton)

    October 7, 2015: Kingston

    October 8, 2015: Ottawa

    October 8, 2015: Halifax

    October 15, 0215: York Region (Richmond Hill)

    October 15, 2015: Oxford County (Woodstock)

    October 22, 2015: Durham Region (Whitby)

    October 23, 2015: Sudbury

    October 30, 2015: Region of Waterloo (Waterloo)

    To learn more please visit our events section and register today! 



  • 21 Jan 2015 11:19 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    An Ontario farmer in Lambton County has been awarded more than $100,000 in damages in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit involving municipal government's use of road salt. Read the London Free Press article at


  • 24 Nov 2014 4:27 PM | Deleted user

    We are committed to protecting our water. We are working to reduce salt use on properties through innovative solutions and partnerships.  We ALL have a role to play.  Download our newest poster campaign today and help us spread the word, not the salt! 

  • 09 Sep 2014 4:43 PM | Deleted user

    read the full article by Clara Blakelock here

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