The polar vortex brought an unusually cold and bitter winter that will not be forgotten. We are still feeling the effects of the harsh winter moving into the winter of 2014-2015. Salt is a hot commodity and valuable resource for combatting snow and ice. At the end of the 2013-2014 winter, it was difficult for many to get enough salt needed to treat their regions. This has left many buying salt even earlier than normal in preparation for the winter ahead.
If you are planning ahead for next season by purchasing early, you will also need to consider storage of the salt in the off-season. It is important to note that salt requires proper storage at all times. Salt can have damaging effects on the environment, which has caused the government in each state to elicit specific salt storage requirements and fines if requirements are not met and the salt causes damage.
Salt Impacts to the Environment
Salt runoff can impact human water supplies as it penetrates into water sources used for drinking purposes such as wells.
Freshwater organisms can be harmed from illegal amounts of salt into water. The population of fish, plants, frogs and other freshwater organisms can be affected by salt runoff.
Trees and plants nearby can also be affected by salt runoff. If salt spreads into groundwater, it dehydrates and kills the plants and animals nearby that rely on freshwater to live.
These reasons are some of the outcomes that resulted in government fines for improper salt storage. While improper salt storage can have negative effects, proper salt storage can ensure you are ready to go when the next storm hits.
Benefits of Proper Salt Storage
Generally, most spreaders require dry, free-flowing material to most effectively spread de-icers. Proper salt storage keeps salt fresh and moisture-free, making it easier to load and spread the material.
A fine caused by improper salt storage can have damaging consequences for a snowplow contractor. Proper salt storage ensures no fines or costs will be spent replanting grass or trees.
Salt also has a unique property that if stored properly, it never loses its melting power. If there is leftover salt from a previous year, proper salt storage can ensure the salt can be used the following year. Salt that is not properly covered can be lost with ground water, costing you money.
Best Ways to Store Salt
Store salt in a covered, waterproof storage facility. It is important the salt is protected from the elements. Salt that is exposed to precipitation becomes lumpy and difficult to spread. A fixed roof is recommended. It is difficult to keep the salt completely covered with a tarp during rain or snowstorms.
It’s equally important to take into consideration how big your salt storage facility needs to be. The amount of salt being stored is the first concern; the second concern is what type of vehicle are you using to load and transport salt. Confirm that your vehicle will be able to access the salt safely and efficiently.
Ensure there is proper drainage in the storage facility. The ground should allow any precipitation to flow away from the stockpile of salt but not into nearby sewer systems, groundwater or freshwater areas.
Concrete or asphalt are the recommended floors for a salt storage facility. Both materials can withstand the wear of loading, unloading and storing an element like salt.
There is no denying the importance of salt in battling snow and ice in the bitter winter months, so make sure you have enough salt supply and are storing it properly according to your state’s salt storage requirements.