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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, April 15, 1998

  • Students assess winter salt use
  • UW gained staff in 1997
  • And speaking of staff positions
  • Yesterday's news today, and more
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Students assess winter salt use

UW can't give up the use of salt on icy roadways completely, but could probably use less of the stuff and give the environment a break, says a study being presented today by a team of environment and resource studies students. It's one of six reports done for ERS 285, "Greening the Campus".

The student team says salt -- of which the university uses some 300 tons a year -- is notoriously bad for the groundwater, and the most common substitute for sodium chloride, calcium chloride, isn't much better: "Calcium chloride may also change aquatic habitats causing the extinction or migration of native species and the potential introduction of exotic species. This is of particular concern to the University of Waterloo due to the presence of Laurel Creek, which traverses the campus. Calcium chloride is also responsible for the transportation of toxins into surface or groundwater. Furthermore, it has been observed that salts do a significant amount of damage to vegetation along treated roads and pathways."

Most areas that are treated during and after winter storms get a 50-50 mixture of salt and sand, says the team, which did its report after consultations with the plant operations department. Three team members even got to ride along when sand and salt were put down after a minor snowstorm on March 12.

They also took a look at two campus buildings where salt and sand are used at the entranceways:

It was observed that deicing and traction substances are tracked throughout the buildings, with the greatest impacts being seen at entranceways and on stairs. The substances were stated to wreck carpets, eating fibres and leaving stains and odours. They also corrode the metal at doorways, and damage cement and vinyl tiles. The stains left by salt and calcium chloride on carpets were noted to be very difficult, if not impossible to remove, as were the white coatings left on hard surfaces. An additional impact at the Davis Center was that the salt and snow tracked in melted and flowed through cracks into the library basement ceiling, forming lumps. At both buildings, the amount of work required of the custodians in the winter was estimated to double. . . .

At present, the only way of counteracting the inflow of these materials into the buildings is by placing runners at the entranceways, which are changed or maintained daily. However, in spite of this, a great deal of sand and salt is nonetheless tracked further in. The custodians expressed the opinion that there is an overuse of sand, salt and calcium chloride.

Among the team's recommendations: consider using only sand at building entrances; use less salt and more sand on the roadways; put out salt and sand only when it actually snows, not "in anticipation of" storms.

They'll be presenting their work at 10:00 this morning in Environmental Studies I room 221. Other teams from ERS 285 will follow with their own reports: "Examining Recycling Contamination in ES I" at 10:40, "Vermicomposting on the UW Campus" at 11:20, "The Imprint's Footprint" at 12:30, "Ron Eydt Village Comparative Food Waste Audit" at 1:10, "Fostering Environmental Awareness: Undergraduate Students at the University of Waterloo" at 1:50.

UW gained staff in 1997

After a big drop in 1996 with the special early retirement program, the number of staff positions at UW actually increased in 1997, according to figures from the institutional analysis and planning office.

In October 1997 there were 1,479.3 staff positions, up from 1,457.4 a year earlier. The totals don't include staff in ancillary enterprises, such as food services and the bookstore, who aren't paid from UW's main operating budget. The number of staff positions had been 1,555.2 in 1995 and 1,566.1 in 1994.

The biggest addition of staff last year was in chemistry, which went from 17 staff positions in 1996 to 25 in 1997. Other additions include four in development, two in central stores, two audio-visual, two in distance education, three in the registrar's office, one in the engineering machine shop, one in computer science, two in math faculty computing, one in counselling, and four in information systems and technology. (Exact comparisons are complicated because of fractional -- part-time -- positions.)

At the same time, kinesiology fell by four staff positions, the library by four, and psychology, earth sciences, chemical engineering and geography by one each.

Of the 1,479.3 staff positions, 421.7 are in the faculties and 1,057.6 in non-academic departments. The single largest department is plant operations, with 329.0 staff positions, followed by the library (139.6) and information systems and technology (112.7).

The statistics were prepared for the senate finance committee, which was told last month that the number of faculty positions did not change in 1997 from its 1996 level, staying at exactly 715.1. That's down by some 70 professors from the 1994 and 1995 figures before the early retirement program decimated the ranks. There were 807.5 faculty positions in the fall of 1993, 789.6 in 1994, and 784.6 in 1995,

And speaking of staff positions

. . . four vacancies are listed in this week's Positions Available, which is being distributed as a flyer to all departments because there is no Gazette issue today. (The Positions are also, as always, listed on the human resources web site.) Here are the jobs: More information: ext. 2524.

Yesterday's news today, and more

The faculty associations of UW and Wilfrid Laurier University invited the three local Members of Parliament -- Andrew Telegdi, Karen Redman and Lynn Myers -- for a briefing about university research issues. About two dozen faculty members met with them, hearing background from three speakers and having the opportunity to ask questions. Robert Mann of physics, who heads the faculty association's government relations committee, chaired the meeting. Like others, he spoke well of recent moves by the Liberal government (all three of the MPs are Liberals). "The last federal budget was very welcome news," said Mann, "not only to me, but to everybody I've talked to at the university." I had a moment to speak to Telegdi, who takes pride in being one of the founders of the "post-secondary education caucus" in the House of Commons, and asked him how much credit he'll take for persuading finance minister Paul Martin to emphasize scholarship and research funding. "A fair bit," said Telegdi with a grin.

A demonstration and discussion of the electronic thesis pilot project is scheduled for 11:00 this morning in Davis Centre room 1304.

Children's performances of "The Velveteen Rabbit", put on by the Touring Players, are scheduled for 10:00, 11:45 and 1:30 in the Humanities Theatre.

Christine Schmidt of the student awards office sends word that applications from on-campus employers are now being accepted for the 1998-99 Ontario/UW Work Study Plan. Deadline: April 30. A "Work Study Plan Job Description Form" is available and should be sent to her by the deadline; for more information, she can be reached at ext. 6039.

Don Wilson of the French studies department yesterday received a national award from France for his work in promoting French culture in Canada. At the University Club, Wilson was formally awarded the title of "Chevalier de l'ordre des Palmes academiques," by M. Vandoorme, the Consul General of France in Toronto. As chair of the French studies department for nine years, Wilson was instrumental in establishing a third-year student exchange program with the Université de Nantes, France. And under his leadership, the department set up the innovative French teaching specialization program. A faculty member at UW since 1970, Wilson retired in 1996.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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