Snow and ice are a regular part of winter in Waterloo Region so we need to work together to ensure our sidewalks are free of it. It's our responsibility but it is also the neighbourly thing to do to ensure clear clear travel for everyone. You might be inclined to grab some salt but here's the thing salt used on sidewalks and driveways eventually gets into our drinking water and may impact its taste. Overtime if we don't manage our winter salt use chloride levels from salts and de-icers may increase in the groundwater and cause our drinking water to taste salty. Salt can also be harmful to your pets, grass and landscaping too. Salt alternatives are not much better. You see most de-icers including products labelled environmentally friendly contain chloride which is also found in salt. There are a few things we can do to reduce our need for salt and keep our sidewalks nice and clear. Number 1, clear away snow first. Do this as soon as possible so a snowy sidewalk doesn't become an icy one. Fresh snow is the easiest to clear and sweeping away any left over snow ensures there is nothing that can melt. Number 2, salt and de-icers are meant for ice only so don't use it to get rid of snow. Number 3, if you do have icy patches try to remove with an ice chopper first. Number 4, if salt is absolutely necessary, please use it wisely and give it time to work. You don't need to use a lot of it. In many cases 1 tablespoon of salt for a 1 metre square area is all you need. Number 5, small grain salt works faster, spreads more evenly and you don't need as much. Number 6, keep in mind that salt doesn't work in really cold temperatures. Most salts work best between zero and -10 degrees Celsius. When it's too cold for salt to work spread sand, grit or non-clumping kitty litter. It won't melt the ice but will provide traction to reduce the potential to slip. There you have it. A few quick tips for a snow and ice free sidewalk this winter. A little extra effort and less salt will go a long way to protecting the environment including your drinking water. Learn more at