The old adage – ‘Sensible Salting Requires Sensible Driving’. As a private contractor who offers snow and ice solutions for both of our residential and commercial customer base, I have become very keen to all aspects of the processes of ice management.
Whether you are in the business or just an observant tax payer, we all have seen roads and parking lots white – but not from recent snow fall, the aftermath of salting to excess. About a year ago, companies and municipalities were scrambling to get their hands on salt and prices sky rocketed as the entire country dealt with a very harsh winter. A little interesting tangent – the shortage felt locally last year was due to winter storms well south of us (Virginia / Maryland / Southern PA) in areas where extended periods of winter weather don’t really occur, not due to the winter weather locally. Anyways, last year contractors were bottom man on the totem pole as mines had to keep enough salt on reserves for the State and local highway DPWs. As a result companies were not salting during the severe cold spells we had where in order for salt to work, amounts had to be laid 3-4 times heavier than normal. On the contrary, this year suppliers have massive surpluses and every salt barn or bin is amply full and likely ready for next winter already.
This past winter – which despite 20″ inches of snow on one day, Rochester is still almost 3 feet below our seasonal average. DPWs didn’t come close to using their salt quotas and workers who depend on OT in trucks plowing and salting our public roads were disappointed with the lack of snow. Private contractors / companies had employees landscaping all December, servicing fleet equipment and getting extra ready for winter. For ourselves, we serviced every piece of equipment we had, built patios, and double and tripled checked everything with regards to getting ready for plowing. Only one thing was missing – Snow.
When it did finally snow – it seemed like everyone was eager to work. From my observations salt use was at an extra high level by both DPWs and contractors. I was observing private contracts spreading salt like the supply was endless. Salting nearly dry and ice/snow free parking lots, turning them white. Caking on deicer on steps and walkways to levels beyond excess. Why? The answer is simple. Companies are simply protecting themselves against slip and fall litigation. Salt and deicer products are generally inexpensive and coupled with customers paying by the trip, contractors salt any chance they get and load it up to protect themselves – but who can blame them, rather be safe than sorry, right?
What happens as a result of a mild winter, with many more insignificant snowfalls than significant? Well, a great article from the local D&C can explain that: Road salt showing up in local bay and creeks
Yes. A very well written and informative article. As a business owner and salt provider, I see some changes coming which could benefit both the local ecology and the industry. SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association) this year offered a model to a sustainable salt usage program. Our friends to the north, Canada, have already begun tracking and regulating salting. Regulations written by those involved with this, not lawmakers alone, could truly help both the environment and professionalize the industry for private contractors. Knowledgeable and truly trained salt applicators are likely the future and as a result salting will become more lucrative than a guy with a pickup truck and a salter.
Thanks for reading!