City quits using salt water
Science teaches us abstract notions like Newton's third law of motion - every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It also offers practical applications, such as the knowledge that diluting something with water makes it weaker, and oil and ...
Science teaches us abstract notions like Newton's third law of motion - every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
It also offers practical applications, such as the knowledge that diluting something with water makes it weaker, and oil and water don't mix.
For the city of Dickinson, all of those rules come in handy when it comes to the art of creating a deicer for the roads.
"There are some effects if you use salt water, but there's an effect no matter what we would use," said Ken Kussy, public works manager for street maintenance.
An article last Saturday by the Associated Press called into question the use of saltwater from oil fields being used on roads.
The city has discontinued using salt water from oil fields while the North Dakota Department of Health and North Dakota Department of Transportation talk about the impact. However, Kussy said it's a common practice in many states.
"In Kansas, the DOT and the Department of Health have actually got it written it into law," Kussy said. "They use it in construction of highways and on road projects."
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment code 28-47, regulates the use of saltwater but does allow it.
Kussy said Montana at one time also had specifications for the amounts of various chemicals that could be in deicing saltwater.
Kussy also provided a study by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from August 2002 that regulated the dumping of salt water produced at oil fields into Wyoming wetlands.
"Now, I don't recommend that; (because) this shows that it has some effects," Kussy said.
For street use, however, Kussy said it is potentially better than some alternatives.
"You're actually using less corrosive materials when you're using saltwater than you are using some of these other things," Kussy said.
Kussy said Montana probably uses magnesium chloride, but there are other options like calcium chloride.
"There's a corn-based product out there, and it's $1 a gallon," Kussy said.
Kussy said states regulate the de-icers they choose to use, so there's no set standard across all DOTs on what should be used. There are other benefits to using saltwater from oil fields as well.
"It's free, so we have an econ benefit there, and it's readily available," Kussy said. "If we started using something else, we're talking increases in budgets."
Kussy also said by using saltwater, less salt is actually put on the roads.
"They use 30-40 gallons of this salt brine (per mile), and that has a heck of a lot less salt in it than if you use regular salt," Kussy said. "Here you've got it diluted."
City Administrator Greg Sund said not only is it the most effective way of tackling ice, but Dickinson uses a lot less saltwater than much of the rest of the country.
"Even then the amount of salt that is put on the roads in this part of the country is immeasurable compared to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania," Sund said. "They dump way more salt."
Sund said salt water is used more frequently in the Great Lakes region and so far it has not had a negative impact on the fisheries there.
However, Kussy said further studies are going to be conducted.
"There are efforts right now to do some more analysis on this water at about every level," Kussy said.
Ultimately, Kussy said he thinks North Dakota will enforce guidelines on how saltwater can be used. However, Kussy said coming up with the guidelines is likely to take some time.
Sund said if there were to be a regulation, it would be something the state DOT or the Department of Health would do, as opposed to the city.
While the city is following the DOT's lead on discontinuing use of saltwater, right now it is using a salt and sand mixture. Kussy said the mixture isn't as effective.
"If I knew of product with no environmental impacts, I would be the first one to come to the city and say we ought to look at that," Kussy said.