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EPS receives 2019 Environmental Leadership Award

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Edina Public Schools (EPS) has received the 2019 Environmental Leadership award for adopting “cutting edge techniques” for snow and ice management. The district was recognized during the 2019 Road Salt Symposium.  

In 2014 the District Buildings and Grounds team observed considerable inefficiencies with salting. Instead of relying on equipment to clear snow and ice, staff were using substantial amounts of salt for walkways and parking lots. “We used 84 pallets of salt in 2012 and we simply did not have the storage capacity for them,” Curt Johanson, buildings and grounds manager, said. Eric Hamilton, director of buildings and ground, and Johanson began by researching new snow removal equipment. EPS invested in a Toolcat and a Ventrac with broom attachments for most of the district sites. The new equipment allows staff to clear paths to the concrete or tar surface.

Along with the equipment, Buildings and Grounds staff attended Smart Salt training offered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The training helps to improve operator effectiveness and reduce chloride pollution. Grounds staff and building heads were able to receive Smart Salt certification through the training.

The efforts to reduce salt usage even inspired Brent Kaley, district-wide grounds supervisor, to create his own salt brining system. “We saw the city using a salt brine on the ground, which led my former supervisor and me to create a tank and our own system for applying salt brine,” said Kaley. “Initially we used a spray painting tank to contain the salt brine, but now we have to use bigger tanks because we are expanding the use of salt brine to all district sites.” The salt brine is used as a melting agent and allows district staff to easily sweep off the snow.

Buildings and Grounds staff now have a four-step process to ensure the walkways and parking lots are safe. A salt brine is applied overnight, then snow is cleared with a snow blower, followed by a broom on surfaces. Lastly, drop spreaders are used to apply salt to ensure it is spread in an even, efficient manner. Currently, EPS on average uses 14 pallets of salt annually, resulting in a cost savings of $10-12,000 per year.

The reduction in salt has allowed EPS to decrease the harmful effects it has on groundwater. Johanson is proud that he is doing something great for the environment. “I know that when I go home, excessive salt is not going through the grass or waterways,” he said. “I feel like I’m contributing to making our world a better place to live.”