City of Westminster Getting Creative in Battle with Snow
Westminster's city employees to pilot a new liquid salt treatment during snow storms.
In an effort to decrease costs and increase efficiency, the City of Westminster is battling snow and freezing accumulation with a new liquid salt treatment.
Briefly discussed at Monday’s Common Council Meeting, Department of Public Works Director Jeffrey Glass explained that the liquid treatment is already being used by the state of Maryland and in other states as well.
Glass explained that the the traditional salt granules, spread by salt trucks during storms, often scatter off the roadway, ending up on shoulders and in gutters, which is both wasteful and bad for the environment.
Glass said there are several benefits to the liquid salt solution, one being that the liquid treatment stays on the road. Additionally, the roads can be pre-treated with the liquid solution, up to 48 hours before accumulation begins, which could reduce worker hours once a storm has started.
“If we can treat in advance, it could prevent that initial adhesion to the road surface,” Glass added.
Another benefit of the liquid is the potential savings. Glass estimates that it would take approximately one ton of salt to treat all of the roads in the City of Westminster using the liquid salt method. To do one pass using traditional granular salt would use an estimated 50-60 tons of salt, he said.
According to Glass, the liquid is a solution of salt mixed with water and although it sounds simple, there is a delicate balance as too much salt in the solution could prove ineffective or even counter-effective.
Glass pointed out that every storm presents different challenges and the liquid solution isn’t the answer to dealing with all snow and ice problems.
“Each storm as its own variables,” he said. “This won’t replace granular salt, it will just be another tool in the toolbox.”
Because the new treatment is being piloted this season, money was not invested in new equipment. As a result, county employees were charged with the task of devising a mechanism to spread the liquid treatments on roadways. Council members chuckled at the pictures of the paver truck rigged with PVC piping and a holding tank reused from the waste water treatment plant.
“We didn’t purchase anything to make this happen-- this is ingenuity folks,” Glass said.
Common Council members responded with enthusiasm at the prospect of potentially reducing costs and increasing road safety during inclement weather.
Council President Damian Halstad said, “That is terrific, very clever working with the resources we have.”
“This is just another way the city staff is trying to save the citizens money,” Mayor Kevin Utz said.