Translation: Alexandre Hackett
Every winter, 1.5 million tons of de-icing salt are spread on our roads, according to Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation (MTQ). Although necessary for the security of drivers, the use of such large quantities of salt on the roads has environmental consequences and can contribute to the premature ageing of lake ecosystems. But exactly how are Brome Lake and its drainage basin affected by these road salts?
An answer later this year
Renaissance Lac Brome (RLB) hopes to have an answer to this question by the end of the year. “Studies on the issue, done in collaboration with the Yamaska and Réseau Rivière drainage basin organization, will attempt to determine if the de-icing salts spread on the roads by the Ville de Lac- Brome (VLB) and the MTQ are concentrated enough to change the ecosystem, the chemical-physical processes and the biology of fish species in the lake,” explains Anaïs Renaud, biologist at RLB. Samples will be taken as soon as the snows start to melt, and this will continue into the summer months as the town, a partner in the project, also spreads calcium chloride on certain roads during this time.
1.5 million litres of water contaminated by a ton of salts
According to the MTQ, the spreading of one ton of road salts can contaminate up to 1.5 million litres of water. In the case of the lakes in the drainage basin of the Saint-Charles river near Quebec City, the evidence is clear. In 2016, a study showed that they had indeed experienced premature ageing, due to the high concentration of salts in the water. And this unfortunately is only one case among many.
As for Brome Lake, once the diagnosis is finalized, RLB and its partners, including the Town, will implement the necessary measures to ensure that it does not suffer similar damage.