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Local Paper Article

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by purpleranger519, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. purpleranger519

    purpleranger519 Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 536

    Ahhhh we will be ok if it don't snow....lmao

    County salt supply limited due to nationwide demand
    Tight supply of de-icer for roads means treatment ratio to be diluted

    By Mike Hall
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Friday, October 10, 2008
    Drivers need to plan for a reduced-salt winter.

    A high demand for road salt, especially in the northeastern states, is causing concern there may not be enough to de-ice Kansas roads and bridges as thoroughly as in past years, especially if this coming winter is as harsh as the past one.

    Shawnee County commissioners encountered the problem Thursday in authorizing the purchase of de-icing salt, sand, and liquid calcium chloride to treat roads and for ice storms and snowstorms.

    Public works director Tom Vlach told commissioners the county received a bid from only one company to supply salt. It was for nearly $1.1 million for 6,500 tons of salt to be supplied by Environtech Services, of Greeley, Colo. That amounts to $166 a ton.

    "Their bid was exorbitant, mostly due to hauling costs," Vlach said.

    So Vlach's department got on the phone and negotiated the purchase of 1,500 tons from Independent Salt Co. for $65.12 a ton, or a total price of $97,680. Independent operates from near Kanopolis in central Kansas.

    Last year, the county paid $41.54 a ton for salt.

    The deal with Independent Salt Co. was struck only after attempting to piggyback onto a city of Topeka salt purchase contract. The city's supplier declined to commit to supplying salt to the county because of the feared salt shortage this winter.

    Vlach said the 1,500 tons to be purchased from Independent Salt Co., when added to 600 tons the department already has on hand, should be enough to get it through an average winter. But beginning the season with 2,100 tons means the county will have less than one-third of the amount of salt it had planned to have.

    Problems will occur, Vlach warned, if the winter of 2008-2009 is anything like this past winter.

    As a precaution to make sure the supply lasts, the department will reduce the ratio of sand to salt in the road treatment mixture to 1:6, rather than the normal 1:4.

    He said if no major snowstorm or ice storm occurs in November and December to draw down the salt supply, the mixture probably will be bumped back up to 1:4 for later storms.

    Steve Olson, vice president for distribution at Independent Salt Co., said production from salt-producing companies like his isn't the problem. They are producing as much salt as last year.

    The problem is an echo of this past winter's unusually cold, icy weather. Many places in the northern states ran out of salt, or close to it, so they have dramatically increased their orders this year.

    "They're saying, 'I'm going to make sure I'm not going to let that happen again.' " Olson said.

    He said his company has been receiving inquiries from states it normally doesn't serve.

    The problem isn't increased demand from the areas normally supplied by Independent, he said. It is a ripple effect from the Northeast. As suppliers to northeastern states bump up against their maximum capacities, customers have to look farther west.

    Vlach said a road treatment mixture that is lighter on the salt shouldn't be unduly alarming to motorists. The lower salt content just means ice will linger on the roads a little longer before melting.

    But he also cautioned that motorists use the same precautions as usual for driving on ice this winter.

    Almost 60% of my snow removal revenue came in Nov. & Dec. last year.