Gravenhurst treated road salt pilot a success
Gravenhurst Director of Infrastructure Services, Andrew Stacey, updated Council about the treated salt pilot program, in the November 22, 2023, meeting.
In his report, Stacey indicated that the Town traditionally used rock salt before the 2019-2020 winter season, which is standard practice for maintaining high traffic roads. It’s an inexpensive method, however, upon learning about the environmental impacts, such as to the water shed, the Public Works department started a pilot project using treated salt as an alternative.
Stacey advised that treated salt is a derivative of rock salt but contains adhesives like magnesium chloride, beet juice or acetate de-icer.
He informed Council that the Public Works department is seeing a 23 percent reduction in the use of salt on roads with the use of treated salt.
His report indicates the Town is using 181.56 less tonnes of salt per year transitioning “from [the] last full year of rock salt to the second full year of treated salt.”
It adds that the benefits of treated salt include:
- More stick and less bounce on the road, improving its efficiency.
- The coating on the treated ice allows it to begin melting the ice quicker and reduces adhesion of ice on the road.
- Applications of the salt can be reduced or eliminated.
- Treated salt has a lower temperature than salt only.
- Less application is required.
The use of treated salt also means less overall use, according to the report. It indicates, “Traditionally, with the use of rock salt, it would be common for an operator to revisit the salt route three (3) times during a single winter event to achieve the desired results being observed currently. With the treated salt, the number of required passes for a given winter event has been reduced (depending on the type of winter event) to one (1) to one and a half (1.5) times per winter event.”
This is important due to the Climate Emergency declaration and because less salt on the roads creates less impact to the environment, according to the report. “The application of salt utilized through the winter months can have an accumulated impact on chlorine levels within watersheds both locally and beyond.”
It continues, “This is why the prudent management of salt, including how it is most effectively applied are critical decision factors while performing winter operations within the Town of Gravenhurst.”
Stacey also reported that the Town also focuses on technological advancements when replacing older fleet being mindful of ‘best practices’ issues.
Councillor, Sandy Cairns, expressed, “This is good news… The Town has done a great job.” She suggested that the Town consider initiating agreements with private individuals and parking lot owners to encourage less use of salt or the use of treated salt.
She added, “I appreciate the forward thinking and bettering the community with using less salt.”