Sustainability Spotlight: Winter Salt Awareness Week at UW-Parkside
With the onset of snow and ice, salt trucks come into action to enhance road safety. “Wisconsin Winter Salt Awareness Week" is scheduled from Jan. 22 to 26 this year, and UW-Parkside is continuing to use the best tools for managing ice on the roads, sidewalks, and parking lots on campus.
The application of salt to roads can effectively lower the freezing point of water and prevent the formation of ice. Unfortunately, up to 30% of typical road salt applications are wasted due to rock salt blowing or bouncing off the road during application. Salt causes corrosion to vehicles and infrastructure, leading to the premature aging of roads and bridges. Ultimately, salt will wash into rivers and lakes, raising the salinity of water bodies over time and posing a hazard to plants and aquatic life.
One method to reduce waste and keep salt on roads is to dissolve salt in water and apply it as a brine before snowfall. Brine requires much less salt than traditional rock salt spreaders and ensures that the salt remains on the road where it is most effective. At UW-Parkside, a new brining truck is being employed this winter to minimize excess salt application. Notably, the equipment can be calibrated for optimal application depending on the weather. Once applied, the dried lines create a layer that helps melt snow before it can form a layer of ice on the road. “We’ve been working to better manage our salt use each year, and this new equipment can help us further the reductions we’ve already made,” said John Bruch, UW-Parkside’s Chief Facilities Officer.
While applying brine or rock salt remains a common method for managing ice on roads, it is essential to be aware of its limitations. Salt works by raising the melting point of ice, so if temperatures are below 15-20°F, the salt won't effectively melt the ice. Lower temperatures are where other methods, such as applying sand or cat litter for traction, become more helpful. Removing snow before it turns into ice through plowing, brushing, or shoveling is still considered the first line of defense in protecting pedestrians and drivers from slippery conditions.
To learn more about the events and speakers presenting for Winter Salt Awareness Week, visit www.wisaltwise.com.