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Homewood OKs salt brine treatment for village streets this winter

Winter travel on the streets of Homewood will hopefully be easier following Tuesday’s village board vote to purchase a Henderson Salt Brine Maker and a spraying unit to treat local streets.

The salt brine treatment will be used during heavy snowfalls and periods of freezing temperatures.

Public Works Director John Schaefer recommended the purchase of the equipment and said it provides a balanced approach to the use of salt for snow and ice control.

“It offers a strategy in achieving safety, mobility and care of the environment as it uses liquid anti-icing materials,” Schaefer said.

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“In order to effectively deal with winter road hazards we need the most up-to-date information and equipment,” he said. “The uses of brines (liquids) are a modern approach. It is known as ‘anti-icing’ or a ‘pre-wetting’ measure. The brine is usually a combination of sodium chloride and mostly water and is used to treat roadways prior to an anticipated snowfall and is a more effective measure to prevent dangerous road conditions … because it is in liquid form, the salt can begin to work immediately.”

Schaefer added that the Public Works Department had tested the salt brine last year by treating one half of several streets with the brine and the other half with rock salt.

“The salt brine was more effective in melting the ice and snow,” he said.

Village President Rich Hofeld asked Schaefer if other municipalities are using the salt brine method. Flossmoor, Glenwood and Orland Park started using the salt brine treatment last year, Schaefer said.

Schaefer said the salt brine treatment is also cost effective.

“We would use 20 to 30 percent less salt and maybe more, resulting in significant financial savings as well as protecting the environment,” he said. Annually, the village typically applies between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of de-icing salt.

Schaefer stated that he anticipated that the improved treatment of the roadways would result in less material needed for fewer repairs, which will reduce costs.

“With these reduced costs, the new equipment could basically pay for itself,” he said.

Cost of the equipment is $92,682 and includes the salt brine maker with automatic controls, a spraying unit and two 6,000-gallon above-ground storage tanks. It will be purchased through the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Cooperative, recognized by both the state of Illinois and the Homewood Purchasing Policy.

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