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The City of Pierre has added brine to its snow removal arsenal. The solution, made of rock salt and water, is applied to roads prior to storms. When conditions are right, the brine prevents ice and snow from bonding with the pavement. It also diminishes the environmental side effects of traditional snow removal techniques.
“The brine causes a squeegee effect,” said Brad Palmer, Utilities Director. “It prevents snow from getting caked to the road - diminishing icy road conditions and allowing the plows to better remove snow from the roadway.”
Palmer says that the City started testing brine as a snow removal tool in 2017 and uses it regularly now when weather conditions allow for it. The brine is only effective when the temperature is 17 degrees or above and the application can be appropriately timed.
“We really want to be confident in a weather forecast before we start spreading the brine,” added Palmer. “If we spread it too early, traffic will wear away the solution before it can do its job. If we spread it too late, it can aggravate slippery conditions.”
Improved traffic safety isn’t the only benefit the public receives from the use of brine. When brine is used, it reduces the need for sanding and salting the roads. That means there is less sand clogging up storm drains and less salt impacting the environment. The brine solution is between 22% and 26% salt. When traditional street salting techniques are used, rock salt is applied directly to roadways.
“The brine is still a relatively new tool for us,” said Palmer. “But thus far, the results have been very promising. We’ll continue to use brine when temperatures and conditions allow for it.”
Palmer did go on to warn that no snow removal technique can prevent all slippery conditions. He advised that during winter weather people should continue to drive with care.