Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A closer look at The City’s Salt Management Program

The City’s Salt Management program is an important and necessary component of how our Roads crews maintain our roadways during the winter.

The program outlines how, when and why The City uses salt to prevent ice from forming on the roads. One of the most important components of the program is our commitment to protecting the environment and our overall goal to improve environmental protection without compromising road safety.

The City operates in accordance with Environment Canada’s Code of Practice which sets out procedures and policies for ensuring we’re continuously improving the management of road salt. We use this national Code of Practice as a framework for our detailed reporting process, which we conduct annually. The City not only follows these national guidelines, but we’re also committed to an internal Environment Management System called Envirosystem. The Envirosystem is a tool used to continually improve our performance and reduce environmental impacts.

There are many ways The City’s Salt Management program strives to achieve overall environmental and safety goals.

Sophisticated technology in our sanding trucks and techniques, like pre-wetting snow and ice control materials like salt, has shown to reduce the amount of material used on the roads. For example, by pre-wetting the salt with a calcium-chloride solution prior to being placed on a road, the salt actually sticks better to the road making it less likely to spread to areas outside of the roadway. In fact, studies have shown that without pre-wetting, only 46 per cent of the material applied to a roadway will actually stay in the middle third of the roadway. However, if the material is pre wet, 78 per cent will stay in the middle third of the roadway.

In conjunction with pre-wetting, our trucks are equipped with technology that allows us to accurately measure the precise amount of salt product needed along a roadway, meaning there’s less chance of overuse.

So, what happens to all that material when once the winter is over? The City’s Spring Clean-up program is designed to pick up excess salt and gravel left on the roadways from the winter months. This program is essential in preventing the run-off of snow and ice control materials and debris into our storm water system. On average, City crews remove about 50,000 tonnes (40 million kg) of winter sanding materials and debris from our roads. If poured into McMahon Stadium, the pile would be 12 feet deep!

Although there is ongoing research into the use of alternative materials for winter maintenance, road salt continue to be the most cost-effective de-icers. Through our Salt Management program and abiding by both national and municipal environmental standards we’re able to make informed choices and make strides in keeping our environment clean and our roads safe.

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