After local environmentalists raised concerns about the impact of road salt seeping into the Ramsey Lake, the City of Greater Sudbury is responding.
The Sudbury and District Health Unit says the city is required to notify the health unit when levels increase past a certain point, butit confirms water from the local lake is safe to drink. However, it says the water could pose a risk to people on sodium restricted diets.
“The levels at the present time are about 50 mg per litre. The City has to report to the Health Unit when the levels exceed 20, so what happens is we report that to the medical professions.” said Burgess Hawkins, the Health Unit’s Manager of Environmental Health.
Burgess says most salt intake for people comes from food, as opposed to water.
“Ifyou take a look at a standard chicken breast, about 75 grams of chicken, you look at about 75 mg of salt in that, as opposed to the water, which is 50mg per litre. So you have to drink about a litre and a half of water to be the equivalent of one standard chicken breast, and that's unseasoned.” said Hawkins.
Burgess adds that the information about salt levels in the lake is posted on the Health Unit website.
As for the City of Greater Sudbury, it says it’s taking steps to improve how it uses salt on our roads.
“We calibrate all of our trucks to make sure we are not putting an excess amount of salt down when we plow the roads, We also monitor that application of salt very, very closely. We are also using wetting agents now, which allow us to minimize the amount of salt that just runs off the road.” said Tony Cecutti, the city’s General Manager of Infrastructure Services.
Classification of a road determines if salt is used and many surrounding Ramsey Lake are currently classified for its use, similar to all Sudbury’s major and arterial roads city officials say.
A subwatershed plan will be complete later this year and will make recommendations for responsible growth and protection of the lake.