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Bloomington Public Schools Improve Safety and their Bottom Line with Anti-icing Strategies

February 13, 2019

Group of kids on snowy sidewalk getting on school busMaking sure kids are safe at school has always been a top priority for Craig Nordstrom. A Bloomington resident since 1975, Craig joined the facilities staff at Bloomington Public Schools in the early ’90s. Throughout his career, he focused on finding cost-effective ways to ensure the safety of students and staff across the 17 buildings that comprise the Bloomington Public School system.

In 2010, Craig attended a Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance training sponsored by Nine Mile Creek Watershed District (NMCWD). After the training, he realized that the school’s system of salting sidewalks was not only ineffective but also contributing to the major chloride issues in their watershed. Nine Mile Creek is impaired for chloride, and a 62% reduction of salt applications — including road and sidewalk salting — is needed for the creek to become healthy again.

Granular salt and sand is most commonly used by businesses to melt ice and increase traction. Prior to 2010, Bloomington Public Schools used more than 200 tons of salt/sand mixture annually to treat icy surfaces. The salt/sand mixture was stored beneath a tarp on school grounds, leaving it vulnerable to erosion in wet weather. When sand and salt washes down storm drains and into local rivers and lakes, they cause a dangerous build up of chlorides in waterways.

Anti-icing liquid and brining are growing in popularity as a more efficient alternative to granular salt and sand. Anti-icing liquid can be used in much smaller quantities before a winter storm to prevent ice from forming on roads and sidewalks. As a result, snow is easily removed by plows or shovels, and fewer chlorides build up in snowmelt.

With the support of two Cost-Share grants from the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, Bloomington Public Schools purchased equipment to transition from salting and sanding to pre-storm liquid anti-icing. As a result, they reduced their use of chlorides by more than 50%.

[Read more on Clean Water MN]