Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grit on your Sidewalks

I have recently written an article about needing a sidewalk app, and some of the hazards that pedestrians face in winter cities.  Most municipalities divert the duty of winter sidewalk maintenance onto the shoulders of its citizens for residential neighbourhoods.  When the weather warms up the snow will melt, and then when night falls the steady stream of water will freeze.  It is the residents responsibility to manage this ice build up, and to deter the possibility of a law suit most residents will spread road salts onto the ice to lower the waters melting point.  This newly melted ice then makes it way into our gutters, however the ice suddenly has a higher salt content.  The salty water is unsuitable to be dumped into the local water system.  Residents that use salts on our roads are causing more damage than is immediately obvious.  The city has to use more money and resources to clean up water that could have been normally dumped into the local river.  Most cities are dumping this salty water into the water supplies anyways.

What can we do to avoid the use of road salts on our sidewalks?  The best solution would be to prevent the ice from forming in the first place.  Instead of piling the snow right up to the sidewalk, you could instead set the snow mountain a feet or two back from the sidewalk line.  This way when the snow melts the ground having some permeability will allow the water to be absorbed into the soil.  Some ice may still form even with these stringent precautions, in that case you should consider chipping the ice away.  Both of these methods have no environmental impact, but they do require some physical exercise.  Many of our seniors may not have the strength for these tasks.  As last resort sand should be utilized, sand has its drawbacks however it is far more environmentally sound.  Ensure that you use a dark sand since this allows the sand to absorb what little warmth is  available from the sun and melt the ice.  Sand will not kill your bushes and grass when spring time comes around.  Sand will not poison our water, soil and local wildlife.  Sand can be found naturally in most environments as opposed to salt, and its because of this that it is so destructive. 

Salt not only destroys our environment, but it provides the ions necessary for rust to form on your cars.  Road salt also has the nasty habit of creating salt rings and ruining our clothes.

Is it really worth it to save a buck buying a bag of salt as opposed to sand?

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