KITCHENER -- Officials with the Region of Waterloo say businesses can close their unused parking spots this winter to help protect our drinking water.

The region says closing the spots will reduce the amount of chloride in water due to winter salt use.

Since many employees are working from home, businesses may not need as many parking spaces. Closing the spots can help reduce winter maintenance costs and allow crews to use less salt and ice melter on the ground.

“We see an opportunity to create a positive result for our community’s drinking water during the pandemic,” Eric Hodgins, Manager of hydrogeology and source water for the Region of Waterloo, says in a news release. “With fewer people driving to some workplaces, we have an opportunity to reduce the amount of paved parking surfaces we’re treating with salt and chloride products this winter.”

The region says salt and ice melting products are some of the biggest concerns for drinking water quality, since most of it comes from groundwater. Wastewater treatment doesn't remove salt, the region says.