Waterless sweepers feature enclosed brooms. The learning curve typically is short for operators to become accustomed to cleaning curblines without side broom visibility. Photo: Elgin Sweeper Co.

Municipalities may maximize the pollution control benefits by sweeping streets year-round. In northern regions, however, sweepers that use water should be put in storage at the first freeze.

An alternative waterless technology is available that relies on brooms to pick up leaves and light litter. The brooms are enclosed with flexible shrouds that prevent dust from escaping. A powerful vacuum fan creates an air stream through the debris hopper, conveyor, and skirted areas. The inward-rushing air carries airborne dust into the debris hopper, where it settles with the rest of the swept debris.

A long-life, dry filter element installed between the hopper and the vacuum fan prevents dust from being pulled from the hopper and blown out the exhaust fan.

Dry sweepers improve air and water quality by removing fine particles that if over-wetted would otherwise remain as a paste on the ground. After drying, that paste could be blown into the air or washed into the watershed. Dry dust control sweepers also are easier to clean because of reduced mud buildup. The additional dust control components increase purchase and maintenance costs, but these increases may be offset by decreased water cost, cleanup cost, and increased productivity.

Some sweepers pick up large debris such as mufflers and tires. Others concentrate on small debris that pollute air and water. Some city managers have found tandem sweeping to be an effective method. They send out a heavy-duty mechanical broom sweeper to pick up large debris, followed by an air sweeper.

The variety of sweepers on the market all work differently and offer different benefits, but an aggressive sweeping program utilizing any type of modern sweeper will provide positive results.

— Kinter is a technical consultant for Elgin Sweeper Co.