When selecting a salt storage structure, consider the factors most important to your operation. Should it be a permanent structure? How weather-resistant does it need to be? What types of equipment will need access? By planning ahead, municipalities can safely and cost-effectively contain salt supplies. Photo: Clearspan Fabric Structures

Winter's over, but planning for road and sidewalk salt storage now will help next year's deicing activities run smoothly.

Salt must be stored appropriately to eliminate environmental hazards and allow for quick deployment during an icing event. Piles should be placed on an impermeable pad with a waterproof covering so that contaminated liquids cannot seep into the ground and pollute streams, wells and ground-water, or affect surrounding vegetation and agricultural operations.

Storage regulations vary by state. Many are designed to protect water supplies, and public works departments and municipalities that don't practice proper salt storage could find themselves facing additional expenses if excessive runoff occurs. For example, in Wisconsin salt must be stored on an impermeable surface and securely covered year-round. This undertaking can be a challenge if a building is not used.

Some departments use tarps as a temporary covering for salt piles. This practice can be inconvenient in severe weather, and also potentially hazardous. If tarps become unsecured during inclement weather, it can take a considerable amount of extra effort from employees to keep salt covered.

A tarp therefore becomes a less economical choice than a storage structure in the long run: the additional labor hours, combined with the cost of unreliable protection, outweigh the initial investment of a building. Using a proper storage facility can also preserve salt quality and speed up delivery and loading times.

Weighing the options