Last season's heavy snows left many cities and counties out of salt by February and miners tapped out by March. Instead of waiting to see when reserves will run out this season, nine communities in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro area pooled resources to create a regional salt storage facility that holds up to 22,000 tons.

The second of two storage buildings was completed last month, and communities with previously limited capacities had enough salt to avert shortages in December and January.

“This is our way to ensure that we have supplies in place at the beginning of the season,” says Bart Weller, director of the Clive (Iowa) Public Works Department.

The facility is located on land owned by the Metro Waste Authority, which serves all nine communities. The authority loaned the $1.2 million needed to construct the buildings, while also allowing use of its land rent-free. Participating communities share the responsibility of maintaining the buildings.