Did you know that it only takes 1 teaspoon of salt to pollute 5 gallons of freshwater? Unfortunately there is no cost-effective way to remove salt from lakes and rivers. The best way to prevent excess salts from entering surface waters when keeping roadways and walkways safe is to prevent over application of deicing products.
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Did you know deicers have a minimum temperature at which they are effective? Using a product that isn't match to the current conditions of the pavement will result in wasted product, wasted money, and potential pollution of the local waterway. The chart below can help you use the best product for the conditions. (Click here to download this chart)
It is up to each property owner to clear public sidewalks of snow and ice. Rochester City Ordinance 72.02 requires property owners with a public sidewalk to remove snow and ice within 24-hours after a snowfall.
- Shovel as soon after the storm as possible. When heavy storms occur, consider removing snow halfway through the event so you are able to keep up with the snow.
- Remove as much snow as possible before using a deicing product.
- Remember that most deicing products work best at temperatures above 15oF. Apply less product on a warm, sunny day and don't apply on the coldest days. Use this guide to help pick the correct product for the conditions.
- Avoid over application of products. It only takes 3/4 of a coffee mug to treat an average sized parking space (~50 ft2). Use a handheld spreader to evenly distribute the right amount of product for the space you are deicing.
- Sweep up any sand that was used as traction and reuse it in the next snow event.
- If hiring a contractor to clear areas on your property, hire one that has been certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Snow and Ice Control Best Practices. Click here for a link to MPCA's certified individuals.
Businesses & Professional Contractors
Like homeowners, it is the responsibility of businesses and the contractors the hire to clear public sidewalks located adjacent to their property of snow and ice*. Many businesses are responsible for clearing private parking lots in addition to sidewalks and customer safety is of utmost concern. The good news is that you do not need to sacrifice the environment for the sake of public safety. Using the correct amount of a product that matches the conditions will not only keep your customers safe - it will also save you money and prevent excess salts form entering the environment.
Numerous training opportunities provide opportunities for those responsible for winter management to fine tune their approach at clearing snow and ice so it is safe for both people and the environment.
- Annual Road Salt Symposium put on by the Freshwater Society
- Road Salt Trainings by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Business owners that are hiring contractors are encouraged to hire individuals/companies that have been certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Snow and Ice Control Best Practices. Click here for a link to MPCA's certified individuals.
*Rochester City Ordinance 72.02 requires property owners with a public sidewalk to remove snow and ice within 24-hours after a snowfall.
On the Roads
The Public Works Department carefully manages the amount of salt and sand used on Rochester's roadways to keep them safe for travel and from polluting area rivers. Below are the answers to many common maintenance questions.
- What chemicals are used on City roads?
Salt, salt-sand mix, and salt with Road Guard 8 if the temperatures are too cold for salt to work.
- How do you know which products to use?
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) researches what is most cost effective and cost efficient while causing the least damage to the environment.
- Do city staff receive training on the topic?
Every year a trainer from MnDOT trains staff responsible for snow and ice management.
- How long before a storm event can you use these products?
Pre-treatment of roads can happen as early as 3 days before a storm; however, it is most effective to pre-treat within 24 hours of a storm.
- Why pre-treat?
Pre-treatment with a salt brine minimizes snow compaction and icing, which saves salt and sand and makes it easier for the plows to do their job.
- What is pre-treated before a storm?
Hills, bridges, sharp corners, and dangerous intersections receive pre-treatment.
- How much money has been saved since implementing these practices?
Salt use has been cut by about 15%. Sand use has been reduced by about 40%.
- How can I help?
Stay 100+ feet away from working plows. Keep your garbage bins out of the street. Don't park your vehicle in the street when there is a snow event and abide by parking signs. Remember that it is against the law to move snow into the street.
The City of Rochester’s Park Department removes snow from many miles of the bike route and trail network throughout the winter months.* Timely snow removal and waiting for the sun to melt any remaining snow is primary method of clearing maintained trails. The majority of Rochester’s trails are within river corridors so the Park Department intentionally minimizes their use of deicing products.
*It is not practical to maintain the entire trail network over the winter. See which bike paths, trails, and sidewalks are maintained in the winter at: www.rochestermn.gov/departments/park/trails/