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Wells depletes salt supplies

By Staff | Mar 16, 2014

Got salt?

There has been no shortage of snow and ice this winter in Wells, but the same can not be said about road salt.

The waves of snowstorms in Wells have depleted supplies of road salt used to clear ice off streets.

“We purchased 75 tons of salt this year,” Public Works street foreman Mike Pyzick says. “We have already gone through the 75 tons and only 35 tons of salt remains for the rest of 2014.”

The extra 35 tons of salt Pyzick referred to was left over from last years salt. “On average, we wind up with about 50 extra tons of salt at the end of the year,” he says. “But, this year we only have 35 tons because of the late snowstorms last April and May.”

With the 29 inches of snow, which has fallen in Wells since Feb. 18, Pyzick has tried to order more salt, but every outlet has told him the same thing they can’t supply it.”

“I called North American Salt Company, Cargill and a business in Illinois, but they all said there was nothing they could do to help us out.”

Pyzick is confident the amount of salt remaining will be enough for the rest of 2014.

“Sometimes we get early spring thaws, which help us conserve salt” he explains. “But, mother nature has not been so nice this year so far.”

In the past, the Public Works policy was to plow if there were two inches of snow or more. However, that number has doubled to four inches to make sure salt is preserved.

“I don’t think it will come to this, but if we have to, we will add chip rocks to the salt to help minimize the usage,” Pyzick says. “The chip rocks will help with traction, but also has some downfalls to it.”

According to city administrator Robin Leslie, these chip rocks could be easily tracked in to homes and could get into the storm sewers, which could create other problems.

In regards to the budget, Leslie points out that salt is grouped with other items in the “material budget.”

The salt used costs $93.81 per ton, according to Pyzick and is not a huge hit to the budget, unless more road salt is needed Leslie says.

“We budgeted $75,000 for total materials, so if we end up ordering more salt, that may cause problems when we need asphalt and gravel this summer,” she says. “There may be a budget overage in this category, in that case.”

Unfortunately, with the rough winter Wells has had, there will probably be multiple pot holes which will need filling and patching. According to Leslie, that could be another overage in the budget as well.

Pyzick is not worried about running out of salt, but admits it could happen.

“As long as we don’t get huge amounts of snow in the next couple of months like we did last year, we will be fine with our salt amounts,” Pyzick says. “It’s not just us here in Wells that are having issues. It seems a lot of states are having difficulties.”