1. That the Transportation Committee recommend Council receive this report for information.
2. That Transportation Committee recommend that the City Council approve that the City of Ottawa participates in Environment Canada's initiative to mitigate the detrimental environmental effects of Road Salt.
RECOMMANDATIONS DU RAPPORT
1. Que le Comité des transports recommande que le Conseil reçoive le présent rapport à titre d’information.
2. Que le Comité des transports recommande que le Conseil approuve que la ville d’Ottawa participe sur l’initiative d’Environnement Canada dans le but de réduire les effets adverses des sels de voirie sur l’environnement.
Achieving safe and passable roads and sidewalks is the fundamental service provided under the City’s snow and ice control program, supporting public mobility as well as the City’s economy. Like most winter cities, Ottawa utilizes road salt, an economical and readily available natural product, to maintain the City’s transportation network.
Over the years, the Department of Public Works and Services has taken positive measures to improve the management of its salt use, implementing technologies and incorporating practices that have led to more efficient and environmentally sound salting operations.
Despite the independent efforts of municipalities to responsibly manage road salt use, there is a growing public concern about potential environmental consequences resulting from the use of road salt by municipalities during the winter maintenance season. Notwithstanding this, use of road salt continues to be the most effective and cost-efficient means of controlling snow and ice hazards on roadways and sidewalks.
In response to this concern, in 2002 Environment Canada, supported by the technical expertise provided by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC), initiated a best practices review of road salt storage and usage. The Department participated extensively in stakeholder workshops established to review and discuss all aspects of road salt management and develop appropriate guidelines for responsible salt use. Consequently, on April 3, 2004, Environment Canada published a Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts recommending that organizations voluntarily develop and endorse a salt management plan to mitigate the environmental impacts of salt use.
Ottawa’s voluntary participation in Environment Canada’s initiative will continue to demonstrate Ottawa’s commitment to the environmentally responsible management of road salt and in keeping with the City’s Environmental Strategy will provide a comprehensive approach to the management of material and resources in an efficient and effective manner while incorporating environmental factors in the Department’s decision-making. The development of a Salt Management Plan will set out the procedural framework for responsible use of salt during winter maintenance activities and implementation of the Plan will provide a process by which to monitor the effectiveness and continuously improve our road salt practices. This will further demonstrate Ottawa’s commitment to reduce the potential impacts of road salt use while providing a safe transportation network in compliance with the City’s Maintenance Quality Standards.
Le réseau de routes sécuritaires et carrossables est le service de base fourni dans le cadre du programme de contrôle de la neige et du verglas de la Ville, ce qui permet au public de se déplacer et d’appuyer l’économie de la Ville. Comme la plupart des villes qui endurent un hiver froid, Ottawa utilise le sel de voirie, un produit naturel économique et facilement accessible, pour entretenir les routes et trottoirs de la Ville.
Au fil des ans, le Service des travaux publics a pris des mesures positives pour améliorer la gestion de son utilisation du sel, en mettant en œuvre des techniques et en appliquant des pratiques qui ont fait en sorte que les opérations de sel de voirie soient plus efficaces et salubres pour l’environnement.
Malgré les efforts indépendants des municipalités visant à gérer de façon responsable l’utilisation du sel de voirie, le public s’inquiète de plus en plus des conséquences que l’utilisation du sel par les municipalités au cours de l’hiver pourraient exercer sur l’environnement. Nonobstant cette inquiétude, l’utilisation du sel de voirie continue d’être le moyen le plus efficace et rentable de contrôler les dangers causés par la neige et le verglas aux routes et aux trottoirs.
Afin de répondre à cette inquiétude, en 2002, Environnement Canada a amorcé une étude des meilleures pratiques de l’entreposage et de l’utilisation du sel de voirie avec le support et l’expertise technique de l’Association des Transport du Canada (ATC). Le Ministère a participé intensivement à des ateliers d’intéressés qui ont été créés en vue de réexaminer tous les aspects de la gestion du sel de voirie, et d’en débattre publiquement, et d’élaborer des lignes directrices appropriées régissant l’utilisation responsable du sel. Par conséquent, le 3 avril 2004, Environnement Canada a publié un code de pratique visant la gestion environnementale des sels de voirie dans lequel il était recommandé que les organismes élaborent et appuient volontairement un plan de gestion du sel qui diminuerait les impacts de l’utilisation du sel de voirie sur l’environnement.
La participation volontaire à l’initiative d’Environnement Canada démontre l’engagement de la ville d’Ottawa face à l’application d’une gestion responsable des sels de voirie. La ville favorise donc une approche compréhensive et efficace à la gestion du matériel et des ressources en conformité avec la stratégie environnementale. Le développement du plan de gestion des sels de voirie produira une structure procédurale relative à l’utilisation responsable du sel au cours des activités d’entretien en hiver. La mise en œuvre du plan assurera qu’Ottawa sera en mesure de contrôler et d’améliorer constamment ses pratiques de gestion du sel de voirie et fera preuve en outre de l’engagement de la Ville à réduire les impacts environnementaux potentiels de l’utilisation du sel de voirie tout en fournissant un réseau de transports sécuritaire conformément aux normes de qualité de l’entretien de la Ville.
Residents, the business community, emergency services and visitors rely on the City’s transportation network being kept in a safe and passable condition throughout the year. The City has a network consisting of approximately 5,400 kilometres of roads, 40 kilometres of Transitway, and 1,500 kilometres of sidewalks, which must be maintained in all weather conditions to Council approved Maintenance Quality Standards.
Ottawa receives an annual average snow accumulation of 232 centimetres (20 year average), combined with a myriad of associated weather conditions such as fluctuating temperatures that create freeze/thaw cycles, freezing rain conditions, black ice, and in recent winter seasons, prolonged periods of rain. Each temperature range and/or road surface temperature range requires a unique response involving specialized equipment.
Snow or ice covered road conditions have a dramatic impact on public safety, roadway capacity, and travel time, resulting in significant societal impacts, i.e. economic, social, emergency response, etc. Within this context, the salting of roads and sidewalks is a fundamental service provided under the City’s snow and ice control program. At the present time there is no economical and readily available material that can substitute for road salt as a winter maintenance tool, and the continued use of road salt is required to maintain public safety and support the economic life of the community.
In response to a growing concern about the potential detrimental affects of road salt on the environment, Environment Canada initiated a best practices review of road salt storage and usage. The result of this broad based review is a document entitled Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts. Municipalities are requested to voluntarily participate in an evaluation period that will be coordinated by Environment Canada. Program participants are requested to establish a Road Salt Management Plan, based on the recommendations contained in the Code, and to annually provide information to Environment Canada, which will tabulate and analyze the results. The Code is intended to be used in conjunction with a Salt Management Guide and Syntheses of Best Practices developed by the Transportation Association of Canada with input and technical expertise provided by various Canadian municipalities, including Ottawa.
This report provides information on the Department of Public Works and Service’s Road Salt Management Plan, which is being prepared in response to these guidelines.
As a city situated in the northern hemisphere with an average annual snow accumulation of 232 centimetres and fluctuating winter road surface temperatures ranging between 0ºC and –28ºC, the City of Ottawa has been obliged to rely on use of road salt to maintain its transportation network. In 2004 the Department budgeted $10.1 M for road salt material and used approximately 173,834 metric tonnes of road salt, which translates into approximately the equivalent of 18,000 spreader truckloads. The road salt cost per metric tonne is currently at $62.19 (excluding taxes) and as noted in Table 1 the cost of this material has been rising over recent years:
Table 1: Road salt cost per metric tonne (excluding taxes)
Potential alternatives to road salt in the North American market are either not economically viable or not available in the quantities required by municipalities. As new technologies emerge, Ottawa, along with other Canadian municipalities providing winter control services, such as Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton to name a few, have been researching, evaluating, and implementing new technologies and practices to improve road salt management techniques. The key benefits of applying new technologies are that winter maintenance operations are now more cost and operationally effective, and when combined with improved staff training and new updated operational policies and equipment, the result is that there is less uncontrolled road salt being released into the environment.
Historically and now, however, there always has been and continues to be a trade-off between using road salt in sufficient quantities to achieve the approved Maintenance Quality Standards while concurrently being conscious of application rates because of potential environmental implications.
Despite the independent efforts of some municipalities to improve their road salt management practices, there is a growing concern about potential environmental consequences resulting from the extensive use of road salt by all northern municipalities during the winter maintenance season. In response to this concern, in 2002, Environment Canada initiated a best practices review of road salt storage and usage. Workshops involving road salt users across Canada were established to review and discuss all aspects of road salt management such as material specifications, storage, handling, equipment, spill response, training, etc. City of Ottawa Department of Public Works and Services staff were key participants and provided valuable input based on their extensive experience in road salt usage.
The result of this broad based review by Environment Canada is a document entitled Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts. The recommendations contained in the Code are technical guidelines for the proper and effective management of road salt, and not legislated operational requirements.
To gauge the effectiveness of the Code’s recommendations and to assist in determining the success of reducing the release of road salt into the environment, municipalities are being requested to participate in the next phase of the project comprising implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The project’s milestones are presented in ANNEX A.
The City of Ottawa and many of its predecessor municipalities have always been in the vanguard of adopting new initiatives and technologies for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental responsibility, budget constraints, development of emerging technologies, and commercial availability. Examples of winter maintenance technologies or initiatives that have been introduced within the past 10 years include:
· The installation of ground speed regulated electronic controllers on spreading vehicles, which controls the placement of materials onto the road surface based on vehicular speed;
· The installation of pre-wetting technology on some spreading vehicles, which sprays a light application of a de-icing agent over road salt thereby accelerating the melting properties of the salt, while at the same time reducing/eliminating material bounce, such that all salt spread remains on the travelled portion of the road and is effective at lower temperatures;
· The installation of Road Weather Information Systems providing real-time weather and road condition information at key locations, which assists operational supervisors in making timely and informed winter response decisions;
· The installation of Direct Liquid Application technology on some spreading vehicles to facilitate anti-icing, which applies Sodium Chloride Brine at the onset of a winter storm to prevent black ice conditions;
· The installation of GPS/wireless data transfer technology on spreading vehicles, which enables the Department to capture information related to road salt applications;
· The installation of vehicular mounted pavement temperature sensors on patrol vehicles, which allows supervisory staff to monitor pavement surface temperatures and to respond accordingly;
· Operator and supervisor training specific to weather, materials, and equipment.
A more detailed description of these and other innovative winter maintenance technologies implemented by the Department is presented in ANNEX B. The benefits of adopting these new technologies are: that winter response can be tailored to meet specific weather conditions and/or road surface temperatures; there is a greater control over material application rates; and, the accuracy of records is improved. The cumulative benefit is that less road salt is used to achieve the same result thus increasing operational efficiency.
It is this commitment to continually seeking out new road salt research, management practices, application technologies and information systems that prompted Public Works and Services staff to participate in Environment Canada’s best practices review of road salt management.
Municipalities wishing to participate in the next phase of the project are expected to demonstrate their commitment by:
(a) Identifying all activities or operations where road salt may potentially be released into the environment;
(b) Identifying implementation goals based on the Code, geared toward reducing the negative impacts of road salt releases;
(c) Developing a Road Salt Management Plan;
(d) Providing Environment Canada with an annual progress report.
Other Canadian municipalities have positively responded to Environment Canada’s initiative as a means to address environmental concerns related to the use of road salt. To name a few, the Cities of Toronto, Hamilton, London, Mississauga, Winnipeg, the County of Wellington and the Regional Municipality of Niagara have joined the group of participating municipalities.
Cost efficiency in combination with environmental responsibility is a major incentive and benefit of pursuing and adopting new technology as it becomes economically viable. Participating in best practices reviews of this type and adopting new operational management techniques complements new technology by allowing municipalities to achieve the same desired outcome by using less road salt. Using less material to achieve the same result is a win-win for both the City and the environment.
Road Salt Management Plan
Ottawa’s Road Salt Management Plan will be a management tool setting out a procedural framework for winter maintenance activities ensuring that the Department continuously monitors and improves its road salt management practices. The Plan will demonstrate the City’s commitment to reduce the potential detrimental environmental effects of road salt use while providing a safe transportation network in compliance with the City’s Maintenance Quality Standards. The plan’s framework and content will be consistent with Environment Canada’s Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts and with the Synthesis of Best Practices developed by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC).
The Plan will describe road salt management objectives, environmental considerations, changing environmental patterns, current situations, implementation considerations, benefits, goals, performance measures, and references for all activities in which road salt could potentially be released into the environment. Potential environmental benefits that would be realized with the implementation of the Road Salt Management Plan are also discussed.
An annual review of winter salting activities will be conducted to evaluate the performance of the Plan’s implementation state. As a result, progress achieved toward the adoption of Best Management Practices and salt management goals will be monitored, and the information provided to Environment Canada. The information provided by municipalities will be tabulated and analyzed by Environment Canada to evaluate the effectiveness of the Code’s recommendations in reducing and/or eliminating the release of road salt into the environment.
Any modifications to winter maintenance activities will be carried out in a way that provides roadway safety and user mobility consistent with the weather conditions experienced during the snow and ice control season.
This Plan will be dynamic in nature, allowing the Department to phase in new approaches and technologies in a way that is responsive to fiscal demands and the need to ensure that roadway safety is not compromised.
The adoption of Environment Canada’s Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts provides an additional tool to assist municipalities in reducing releases of road salt into the environment.
The City of Ottawa participated in the development of salt management strategies and best management practices, primarily as a key stakeholder in the development of Environment Canada's Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts and the Transportation Association of Canada's Synthesis of Best Management Practices. The City is also a member of the Ontario Road Salt Management Working Group, which is mandated to share knowledge and best practices and to discuss issues related to Salt Management initiatives across the province.
A copy of this Report was provided to the Environmental Advisory Committee to inform them of the Department’s recommendation that the City of Ottawa participate in Environment Canada’s initiative to mitigate the detrimental environmental effects of Road Salt.
On June 09, 2005, the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) approved the following motion:
WHEREAS the Road Salt Management Plan prepared by Public Works and Services (date May 5, 2005) provides an overview of the City's present and past initiatives in mitigating its extensive winter road salt use; and
WHEREAS the EAC appreciates that attention is being given to this subject; and
WHEREAS within the document, Annex B outlines the very good measures currently in effect for the use of road salt for winter conditions in the City; and
WHEREAS the current report does not specify measures for reduction or specific environmental considerations; and
WHEREAS the document is lacking in future and new initiatives that should be included with the present reduction practices; and
WHEREAS the EAC feels that with the identification of specific variables the report would be more concrete and provide a stronger example of a comprehensive and proactive Road Salt Management Plan; and
WHEREAS the EAC feels the Road Salt Management Plan in its current state is incomplete in regards to new initiatives, comprehensive budget considerations, milestones, and specific identification of environmental consequences.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Road Salt Management Plan be improved by identifying:
a. Specific vulnerable areas identifiable as "salt sensitive"; and
b. Schedules with milestones; and
c. Budget considerations, including a cost-benefit evaluation of alternatives; and
d. Specific reduction targets to keep track of how the City's reduction practices are progressing.
Subsequent to receiving this motion, on June 20, 2005, the Department met with representatives of the EAC to provide greater details regarding the Road Salt Management Plan. While the Road Salt Management Plan Report provides the policy context for the development of the Plan, the Plan itself sets out comprehensive Operational Guidelines, Practices, and Strategies including goals and milestones, implementation considerations and benefits, as well as providing direction for key projects including addressing Environmentally Vulnerable Areas.
The City of Ottawa’s participation in Environment Canada’s initiative to mitigate the detrimental environmental effects of road salt through the City’s Road Salt Management Plan supports the direction and ongoing initiatives of the Department.
The 2005 Operating Budget provides $52.6 M for Roadways and Sidewalks & Pathways Winter Control Program, which includes $10.1 M for salt.
Environment Canada’s Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts is available through Environment Canada’s web site at:
Annex A –Environment Canada’s Code of Practice - Milestones
Annex B – Ottawa’s Best Road Salt Management Practices
Upon endorsement by Committee and Council, the Department of Public Works and Services will continue with participation in Environment Canada’s initiative including the continued development and implementation of the Road Salt Management Plan.
Road Salts are added to the Priority Substances List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) for an environmental assessment because of concerns about the large quantities used in Canada
Assessment of Road Salt Environmental Impacts undertaken by Environment Canada
Environment Canada released the Assessment Report.
The report states that road salts are entering the environment in large quantities and are posing a risk to the environment.
The report recommends that road salts be added to Schedule 1 (environmentally toxic substances) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)
Environment Canada initiated the development of a Salt Management Code of Practice with a Multi-Stakeholder Working Group.
This is a voluntary approach to address environmental issues related to the use of road salts.
Ottawa was a participant on the Multi-Stakeholder Working Group.
Sept. 30, 2003
Environment Canada published the Draft Road Salts Code of Practice in the Canada Gazette for a 60-day public comment period.
April 03, 2004
Environment Canada published the Final Code of Practice in the Canada Gazette. It recommends that organizations using more than 500 tonnes of road salt per season develop a Road Salt Management Plan.
Apr. – Oct. 2004
Period within which organizations are invited to send a Letter of Intent to Environment Canada on its intention to prepare a Road Salt Management Plan. Ottawa sent a letter of intent to Environment Canada June 28, 2004.
April 03, 2005
It is recommended that organizations have completed the development of their Road Salt Management Plan.
June 30, 2005 and annually
Due date for first report to Environment Canada.
Recommendation to begin the implementation of Road Salt Management Plans.
Organizations will be invited to cooperate with Environment Canada to prepare a report on the progress achieved.
Maintenance Quality Standards
Ottawa’s Maintenance Quality Standards for Roads and Sidewalks/Pathways were approved by City Council June 11, 2003. The new standard, prescribing a snow-packed condition on residential roads, began implementation during the 2003/04 winter season. Pure road salt use has been eliminated on residential roads reducing the amount of road salt entering the natural environment. This proactive standard change was noted and well received by Environment Canada’s Road Salt Management Project Team.
Selection of Appropriate Winter Materials
Appropriate winter materials are selected based on their physical properties, environmental performance, and cost-effectiveness at providing safe winter driving conditions in relation to the prescribed service level. The materials currently used by the Department are:
· Sodium Chloride (road salt) is used where a bare surface or centre-bare surface is required;
· Abrasives (90% sand or grit mixed with 10% salt) are used to increase traction where a snow packed condition is required (i.e. Class 5 paved roads and gravel roads, class 3 sidewalks). The 10% salt is used as a freeze protection, ensuring the free flow of the abrasive;
· A Mix of Salt and Abrasives (50/50 mix) is used on the arterial network when the road salt melting capacity is reduced due to extremely cold pavement temperatures (i.e. below –20ºC);
· Sodium Chloride Brine (road salt dissolved in water) is used for direct liquid applications (Anti-Icing) and pre-wetting operations when the pavement temperature is ranging between 0ºC and –12ºC;
· Liquid Calcium Chloride Brine (Calcium Chloride dissolved in water) is used for pre-wetting operations when the pavement temperature is ranging between 0ºC and -20ºC.
Control of Material Applications
Eighty-six percent (86%) of the Department’s spreaders are equipped with an on-board ground speed regulated electronic controller. In conjunction with the Department’s Fleet Rationalization Strategy, installation of electronic controllers has been timed to coincide with the equipment replacement/upgrade program and it is expected that within the next five (5) years all the Department’s spreaders will be equipped with an electronic controller.
The controller is responsible for the accurate placement of materials (solids and liquids) on the road and the regulation of the material output in relation to the travelled speed of the vehicle - when a salt spreader equipped with an electronic controller slows down and stops at a red light, the conveyor also slows down and stops to prevent the discharge of salt at the intersection. Electronic controllers also have data recording capabilities, which can be downloaded and analysed by operational staff.
Fifty-two percent (52%) of the Department’s salt spreaders are equipped with on-board pre-wetting technology. In conjunction with the Department’s Fleet Rationalization Strategy, and equipment replacement/upgrade program, it is expected that within the next five years, 80% of the Department’s spreaders will be equipped with the pre-wetting technology. It is not deemed cost-effective to retrofit all spreaders with this technology, particularly those utilized on non-salt routes, such as gravel roads, and residential roads.
Pre-Wetting technology is defined as a light spray application of a liquid de-icer over road salt as it is spread on the road. The liquid de-icers, Sodium Chloride Brine or Calcium Chloride Brine, accelerates the melting properties of road salt by accelerating the dissolving process thereby allowing the road salt to remain effective at lower temperatures. Also, this technology reduces/eliminates material bounce leaving more material on the travelled portion of the road, which in turn allows the reduction of road salt application rates, effectively reducing salt quantities released to the environment.
Direct Liquid Application (Anti-Icing)
During the 2003/04 and 2004/05 winter seasons, the Department piloted the use of direct liquid application technology on Highway 174 and Trim Road. Two spreader trucks with direct liquid-spray capacity were deployed to apply Sodium Chloride Brine on 200+ lane-kilometres at the onset of each storm or when necessary to prevent or treat frost and black ice conditions. The purpose of the direct liquid application is to enhance early storm road safety, to prevent the formation of icy conditions, and to reduce material costs. Expansion of the program on other high volume roads will be considered after the successful completion of the three-year pilot project.
GPS/Wireless Data Transfer Technology
During the 2003/04 winter season, the Department piloted the GPS/Wireless Data Transfer Technology with 10 salt spreaders to remotely gather information from spreading activities. This technology, which works in conjunction with the on-board electronic controller, allows the tracking of equipment movements, and more importantly, the remote monitoring and reporting of spreading activities, allowing the retrieval of spreading information through the Internet. So far, the pilot has demonstrated that this technology is accurate; and has enhanced the Department’s salt monitoring, control and reporting capacity. Further testing will be conducted during the forthcoming winter season. After the successful completion of the pilot trial period, this technology will be added to the technical specifications of new spreading equipment.
Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS)
The Department has 10 RWIS sites that are located at key areas within the City boundaries, collecting real-time road weather information. RWIS sites are local automated atmospheric weather reporting stations combined with pavement sensors embedded in the roadway to provide continuous information on air and pavement temperatures and conditions. The data is collected, electronically transferred via modem, analyzed and modelled utilizing forecast simulations to produce a comprehensive Web-based weather service that includes real-time information, as well as pavement condition predictions and precipitation predictions.
These road weather information tools play a critical role during the winter season, allowing Operations Supervisors to make timely and informed winter maintenance decisions, such as when to begin de-icing operations as well as selection of the appropriate material and application rate.
Infrared pavement temperature sensors
Operations supervisor’s vehicles are equipped with an infrared pavement temperature sensor to assist supervisory staff in monitoring pavement temperatures and conditions across the whole road network. This mobile tool complements the information provided by the RWIS network.
Each fall, the Surface Operations Branch and Fleet Services deliver a training program to winter maintenance personnel. The program includes 2 main streams: Snow and Ice Control Technology (theoretical), and Equipment Operations (practical). In addition to training specific to salt use, equipment operation training is also provided on graders, front-end loaders, sidewalk plows, and pick-ups with plows. Training includes a review of health and safety practices and Provincial regulations. The Snow and Ice Control Technology training program covers all technological aspects of winter maintenance operations, from the science of melting snow with road salt to the interpretation of weather forecasts with an emphasis on the importance of proper salt applications and the preservation of the natural environment. The training program supports management in effectively communicating with staff and ultimately in delivering snow and ice control services.
The Department’s road salt storage structures have been constructed in a manner that prevents uncontrolled releases of road salt into the environment. All road salt storage structures have a waterproof roof preventing precipitation and/or moisture from entering the facilities, and have an impermeable floor preventing road salt discharge to soil, surface water, and groundwater.
Storage tanks for liquid de-icers are constructed to prevent spills through the use of secondary containment structures or double-wall tanks. As new spreaders equipped with the pre-wetting technology are introduced, new liquid storage tanks are being installed at existing maintenance yards to ensure a consistent supply of liquid de-icing products.
As a means to prevent road salt from entering the natural environment, staff are directed, through the annual training programs, to minimize salt spillage during the salt handling cycles using salt handling techniques such as not overloading the salt spreaders and keeping the salt loading pads free of salt deposits. A lifecycle management plan for aging storage facilities is also being prepared by the City’s Real Property Asset Management Branch.