Puslinch agrees with recommendations regarding over-application of winter maintenance chemicals

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch councillors support the Lake Erie Region Source Protection Committee recommendations to address over-application of winter maintenance chemicals in order to protect groundwater.

The report, received by council on Jan. 22 noted increasing sodium and chloride concentrations within groundwater drinking sources in Lake Erie Source Protection Region.

Puslinch councillor John Sepulis, a member of that committee, said a lot of work was done on the report and support was being sought from the committee’s member municipalities.

“I would think the community would be interested in this,” said Sepulis.

He introduced a motion that council endorse the report and its recommendations to address the over-application of winter maintenance chemicals to protect sources of municipal drinking water.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer appreciated the changing of the language around winter maintenance chemicals because there are a number of items that can be used.

Councillor Jessica Goyda added the report looks at taking steps to address liability and to help preserve natural resources.

“Given that Puslinch has a lot of sensitive features, such as Mill Creek, I think we should wholeheartedly support this,” Goyda said.

The report noted liability and other factors influence the amount of salt applied and changes are needed to protect source water.

In October, Source Protection Committee (SPC) members discussed the ongoing issue of salt over-application and the increasing number of sodium and chloride Issue Contributing Areas (ICAs) across the region.

Following the discussion, the committee directed Lake Erie Region staff to draft a report and recommendation(s) regarding the issue for presentation at the next SPC meeting.

The report was drafted in collaboration with staff from the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), City of Guelph, Region of Waterloo and Wellington Source Water Protection.

Recommendations include requesting the province  explore ways to reduce the factors that contribute to excess application of winter maintenance chemicals on road ways and parking lots through a review of the liability framework in Ontario.

The province would then work with municipalities to strengthen training programs for road agencies that apply winter maintenance chemicals on roads and sidewalks to reduce application rates without compromising road safety that would assist with mitigating risks to municipal drinking water systems.

The committee also recommend the province require property owners and contractors responsible for maintaining safe parking lots and sidewalks be trained and certified in the application of winter maintenance  chemicals.

It also recommended the province change within Prescribed Drinking Water Threats, “the application of road salt” and “the handling and storage of road salt” to “the application of winter maintenance chemicals” and “the handling and storage of winter maintenance chemicals”, and define the term in the regulation.