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Great Lakes Article:

Reducing salt good for wetlands too
Belleville Intelligencer
Editorial
09/26/03


Itís a classic catch-22.

Salt is the best ingredient when it comes to preventing accidents on slippery winter roads. But, itís a dangerous ingredient to stir into our ditches, streams and rivers - where, due to runoff and snow collection and dumping, it eventually ends up.

Good news is coming forward on the salt front, however. Though there remains no safe alternative, Environment Canada is giving municipalities advice on how to reduce the use of road salt. Recently, it released a draft "code of practice" for municipalities to peruse.

Locally, the impact of salt on wetlands will be dramatically reduced in the near future as the city and conservation authority begin construction of a new stormwater pond to prevent leaching of salt from the cityís snow dump directly into the Bay of Quinte.

Thanks to donations from the Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation and Ducks Unlimited of Canada, the city will move ahead to build the stormwater pond at the base of Farley Avenue south of Dundas Street East. Decades ago, the wetland was filled in and used as a city snow dump site from which chloride from road salt entered the bay, threatening plant, animal and aquatic life.

Making matters worse, that site is also the end of the road for three large stormwater sewers that collect groundwater east of Farley Avenue. That groundwater contains all the grime from our city streets.

This new stormwater pond will act as a giant filter, collecting salt, sediment, oil, grease and whatever pollution previously flowed directly into the bay. Instead, the sediment will sink to the bottom of the pond and impurities will be removed.

In effect, the pond naturally treats the groundwater before it enters a watercourse frequented annually by migrating waterfowl, explains Ducks Unlimited biologist Owen Steele.

Remediating and reclaiming our wetlands is one of the biggest challenges facing Belleville and the greater Quinte area over the next decade. Itís taken six years for the Belleville Marsh project - which is adjacent to Bakelite - to take flight. A clear and consistent approach coupled with determination to clean up our city, will make for a better future for us all.

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