Salt usage up this season

By Kristin Rover
Sun staff

Salt supplies at jurisdictions throughout Clermont County have taken a hit with several winter storms already blowing through this season.

Townships and villages have reported salt usage numbers that are higher than this time last year.

Batavia Township Public Service Director Kenny Embry, said this year the township has used 477 tons of salt so far.

He said they have had 11 snow events so far this year compared to seven events total last year.

Embry said they have already ordered another 150 tons of salt to put in their storage barn. He suggested trustees also consider purchasing more salt to fill the barn before next season.

“I would like to start next season with a full barn like this year,” Embry said. “The price doesn’t go up until next year.”

In Union Township, Public Service Director Matthew Taylor said that they have used 525 tons of salt this year.

“We have definitely used more this year than last year just because we have had more snow events,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that for Union Township, the snow removals have gone well so far this season.

He said the most notable snow events included earlier in the season when the area got between five and seven inches of snow as well as the recent event where the temperatures fell into the negatives.

“Anytime you have to plow, that doubles the time for each route,” Taylor said about the snow accumulation. “The one we just had with ice, that is very challenging for us with the temperatures.”

Taylor said they have been proactive about their snow removal processes this year.

“We added more liquids into our snow removal operations, which has equated to less salt usage,” Taylor said. “It has gone well so far but winter is not over yet.”

Just before the new year, the Clermont County Engineer’s Office had a shortage of salt.

“We have a cutoff line in our salt barn,” Woody Woodmansee, highway superintendent for the Clermont County Engineer’s Office, said. “When we get back to 1200 tons we have a red mark to cut off some of the townships and villages to make sure we don’t get stuck without salt.”

Woodmansee said they hit that cutoff line toward the end of December 2013.

“At the beginning of the year salt was ordered and it is already coming into us,” Woodmansee said.

Woodmansee said the past couple of years haven’t been too bad in terms of snow removal and salt usage.

Woodmansee said this year the county has used 3,546 tons of salt so far. He said last year they used 5,394 tons total and in 2012 they used 1,902 tons.

He said the county maintains approximately 383 center lane miles of road.

He said treating and plowing the roads prior to and during snow storms really depends on what is forecasted and what kind of conditions arrive.

“If it comes in and is all snow, we put down a brine the day before,” Woodmansee said.

Woodmansee said the concentration of salt and water helps get a jump on the storm by allowing the water to evaporate and leave behind the salt.

“We also sometimes use beet juice,” Woodmansee said. “If it is mixed properly it drops the working temperature of salt a few more degrees.”

Woodmansee said when the temperatures get really cold, however, there is not much that can be done to melt the snow and keep the roads clear.

He said they will mainly salt the roads if it is just a light flurry of snow, however if the snow is building up they go into plow mode.

“We usually plow both ways and then salt on the last run,” Woodmansee said.

Woodmansee said plowing can get difficult for truck drivers because of mailboxes, parked cars, garbage cans and other objects that often block parts of the road.

He encouraged people to be mindful of what they place near the roadway, especially when the roads need to be treated.