Getting Ahead of the Storm: South Milwaukee Adding Brine to Our Snow, Ice Fighting Efforts

For more information on use of salt brine, visit our Street Department’s web page: https://smwi.org/street-department/.

You may have already seen the “lines” on our main streets.

Ahead of this weekend’s winter storm, the city is adding a new weapon in our fight against snow and ice — brine.

From the city Facebook page:

The truck in the picture has been outfitted with a new piece of equipment used in delivering a salt brine solution to our roads before inclement weather. 

The salt brine is a solution of salt and water, used to deliver a pre-treatment anti-icing approach. The anti-icing approach is taken to decrease the likelihood of snow and ice bonding to the pavement surface. Anti-icing involves placing a layer of brine on the surface of the pavement before the winter storm has begun.

A benefit of this process is that anti-icing will achieve the same level of service on the roads using 1/4 to 1/5 the amount of salt!

Indeed, cost savings are a big part of this. Not only should this reduce our use of road salt, it could also reduce overtime costs, as we can potentially wait longer to call in Street Department personnel to deal with a storm.

There are also big environmental benefits to reducing road salt usage, critical as we sharpen our focus on cleaning up the Oak Creek watershed.

It’s also a great example of a regional partnership, as we look to purchase most of our brine from the City of Cudahy.

(The purchase of the large tank was also a win. We will use it year-round to water flowers, grass and other plantings on city-owned property, and to keep dust down on South Milwaukee road projects.)

I want to thank our Street Department for exploring this and putting it into action. It was months in the making, and took a lot of research and discussions with other communities about their approaches before we settled on moving ahead with brining.

In that way, I am glad we are not at the “bleeding edge” of this. Others have done this for years, and we get to learn from their trials and errors, and put those refined best practices to work here.

I urge patience as we roll this out locally. It will take time to get this right for South Milwaukee, but we’ve started on the path to another example of our city teams finding new and innovative ways to deliver services more cost effectively, and better. We won’t stop here.

Stay safe, South Milwaukee!

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