Launch Slideshow

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5 steps to a winter-liquids program

5 steps to a winter-liquids program

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    Village of Spring Grove, Ill., Public Works orders 3,000 gallons of GeoMelt 55 at a time (tank at right) from SNI Solutions of Geneseo, Ill., and blends the chloride-free anti-icing accelerator with salt brine in a 20/80 solution that’s stored in a 6,000-gallon tank outside. “I chose SNI because the company president himself came out to discuss my goals and helped me develop a blend that would work for my specific needs,” says Public Works Director Matt Wittum. All photos: Matt Wittum

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    Village of Spring Grove, Ill., Public Works orders 3,000 gallons of GeoMelt 55 at a time from SNI Solutions of Geneseo, Ill., and blends the chloride-free anti-icing accelerator with salt brine in a 20/80 solution that’s stored in a 6,000-gallon tank outside. “I chose SNI because the company president himself came out to discuss my goals and helped me develop a blend that would work for my specific needs,” says Public Works Director Matt Wittum.

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    The anti-ice system designed and built using a 75-gallon pre-wet system manufactured by Monroe Truck Equipment.

The company that up-fits your trucks probably sells liquid-dispensing systems. Monroe Truck Equipment’s headquarters in Monroe, Wis., installs our plows, dump bodies, hydraulic, salting, and liquid systems. Another popular up-fit company is Bonnell Industries Inc. in Dixon, Ill.

Pavement temperature sensor. Like salt, the effectiveness of anti-icing and pre-wetting depends on pavement temperature. To avoid wasting product, you’ll need to know when asphalt or concrete is too cold; depending on the liquid it’ll freeze upon application. Also, you need to know humidity and dew point for blends with chlorides (calcium and magnesium) because they draw moisture in.

Hand-held units similar to a radar gun start at under $100 (ours is made by Fluke Corp. of Everett, Wash.) After that, research your liquid product and find out the recommended gallons-per-ton application rate and set/calibrate your application system accordingly.

Driver training. I’ve had the privilege of instructing the McHenry County DOT’s certification course. There are many, many years of experience there, which is a great resource. Other organizations that offer classes and seminars include:

Depending on whether you’re anti-icing and what type of liquid you have, preparations for a winter event can be made days before an event. I strongly recommend writing and sharing with elected officials and the public a policy outlining specific criteria and guidelines for liquid applications. If you’ve chosen to anti-ice, explain when and how you’ll be using liquids. Our policy is available here.

Resident education. Finally, let’s not forget the reason we do this. Use websites, newsletters, and local newspapers to give residents the information they need. (Spring Grove mails a flyer upon request.)

Do whatever you can to tell residents what you’re doing and why, when you’re doing it, and how. Communication will affect how successful your program is.

— Matt Wittum (mwittum@springgrovevillage.com) has been public works director for the Village of Spring Grove, Ill., a community of 6,000 that borders Wisconsin, for eight years.


How to justify a liquids program

Studies show pre-wetting reduces salt use up to 20% to 30%, and sometimes more. Apply this percentage to how much a truck uses on a typical 2-inch snowfall and for the season to calculate projected savings.

Liquids also lower overtime, fuel consumption, and vehicle and equipment wear and tear. Use projected savings to upgrade your system — if your board or council doesn’t use it to offset budgets elsewhere.

That’s how we were able to start and grow our liquids program: As more savings were realized, equipment was upgraded and additional equipment was purchased. When the economy turned bad, this became our only option for additional investment.