Cost considerations and funding opportunities

The potential costs of reducing chloride loads and potential funding opportunities s are discussed.

Winter salt (applied to roads, parking lots, and sidewalks)

The assessment of costs and economic benefits associated with chloride uses and its impacts is complex. One thing is certain, removing chloride from impaired lakes, wetlands, and streams through RO or distillation is impractical and cost-prohibitive; therefore, prevention or source control is the logical approach.

Application of salt in winter months is currently the most commonly used method of maintaining safe roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. The economic benefit of safe travel is hard to measure. Economic benefits also from reduced work-loss time. The various economic impacts and benefits are shown in the Cost Considerations Related to Salt Use and discussed briefly below. Though salt is one means of reducing accidents and work-loss time resulting from winter weather other means are available. Slower speed limits during snow events are one such option.

The economic impact of salt use goes beyond the environmental and includes costs associated with damage to transportation infrastructure, vehicle corrosion, and vegetation damage (Fortin 2014).

This chart shows Cost Considerations Related to Salt Use
Cost Considerations Related to Salt Use

Efficient winter maintenance practices can reduce salt use without lowering the level of service. The improved practices are intended to maintain a consistent level of service in terms of safe roads, parking lots, and sidewalks with lower salt use. Implementation of improved winter maintenance activities may come with an initial investment cost to address training, new equipment, and public outreach. However, as a result of reduced salt usage, a cost savings is expected based on information provided by several local winter maintenance organizations. A net cost-savings has been shown by many organizations who have tracked cost before and after the implementation of winter maintenance BMPs. Table 9 provides examples of tracked cost savings associated with the implementation of various salt reducing BMPs by local winter maintenance organizations. Detailed descriptions of these cost savings examples can be found in section 3.5 of the CMP. The cost estimates provided in Table 11 reflect implementation of a variety of BMPs with multiple activities applied simultaneously. The information provided in Table 9 is not intended to be a reflection of cost for any one practice but rather an overall estimate. Each organization will implement practices that are most appropriate for their individual operations and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to winter maintenance; therefore, the costs will vary greatly across organizations.

Examples of Municipal and Private Cost Savings
Link to this table

Entity Implementation Period Main Actions Implemented Salt Reduction Cost Savings
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Start 2006 Began making salt brine and anti-icing and adopted several other salt reduction BMPs. 48%
  • New equipment cost $10,000
  • $55,000 scost savings first year
City of Waconia Start 2010 Switch from 1:1 sand:salt to straight salt & liquid anti-icing; calibration; equipment changes; use of air and pavement temperatures. Switch from 1:1 sand:salt to straight salt & liquid anti-icing; calibration; equipment changes; use of air and pavement temperatures. $8,600 yearly cost savings ($1.80 per lane-mile)
City of Prior Lake 2003-2010 Upgrade to precision controllers & sanders; anti-icing & pre-wetting; use of ground temperatures, best available weather data; on-site pre-mix liquid & bulk-ingredient storage, mixing & transfer equipment; staff education. 42% $2,000 per event estimated cost savings; 20 – 40 mg/L decrease in receiving-water chloride (liquid app-only watershed)
City of Richfield Start 2010 All-staff Training*; yearly sander calibration; use of low-pavement-temp de-icers; road crown-only application; minor-arterial-road policy adjustments > 50%
  • $30,000 : 2010-2011
  • $70,000 : 2011-2012
Rice Creek Watershed District Cities 2012-2013 Staff training; purchased shared anti-icing equipment 32% $26,400 in one winter
City of Cottage Grove 2011-2012 Staff training Not available $40,000 in one winter
City of Shoreview Start 2006 Stopped using a salt/sand mixture and moved on with straight salt; set up all its large plow trucks with state of the art salt spreading controls, pre-wetting tanks and controls and pavement sensors; use of calcium chloride in the pre-wetting tanks reduced the amount of rock salt as well; all applicators and supervisors annually attend *Training; crews attend an annual snowplow meeting to review procedures and talk about salt use and conservation methods; trucks set up for anti-icing main roads with calcium chloride. 44% since 2006 $24,468 in 2014
City of Eagan Start 2005 Moved from a 50/50 salt/sand mix to straight salt; eliminated purchase of safety grit; EPOKE winter chemical application technology; use AVL; pre-wet at spinner Not available $70,000 annual savings
Joe’s Lawn & Snow, Minneapolis Start 2013-2014 Owner & staff Training*; purchase of new spreader, temperature sensors; equipment calibration; use of temperature data; on-going experimentation. 50% $770 estimated cost savings in 2014 - Expected to use 20 tons, only use 9 tons

MPCA Smart Salting Training (All entities described above have attending the MPCA Smart Salting Training.)

Municipal waste water (primarily from water softening)

The cost for point source dischargers to remove chloride from their wastestream is very high and is cost prohibitive for most facilities. Below is an estimate of the cost to treat effluent from a WWTP (Henningsgaard 2012):

An estimate for the total cost is 4-5.25 million Dollars:

  • Fine filtration - 1.5 million dollars per million gallons treated
  • RO - 1-2.25 million dollars per million gallons treated
  • Evaporation technology prior to landfill – 1.5 million dollars per million gallons treated

Annualized cost for construction (assuming 20 year term at a market rate of 2.25%) is between 250,568 and 328,871 dollars per year.

Annual Operation and Maintenance costs: • Fine filtration – 0.01 to 0.15 dollar per 1,000 gallons treatment • RO - 2,200 dollars per million gallons treatment • Evaporator fuel - 10,000 to 12,000 dollars per month

Based on specifics from each community, this cost could be considered to have “substantial and widespread economic and social impact” (40 CFR 131.10 (g) (6)) and could be justification for a variance that would not require this type of expensive treatment. There is no reasonable (environmental and economic) way to dispose of the highly concentrated sludge produced by RO treatment.

The high cost of end-of-pipe treatment for chloride and the high cost and difficulty of final disposal of the brine makes source reduction is a critical element to wastewater treatment of chloride-containing waste streams. In most municipal situations, a major source of chloride is water softeners. The NaCl or KCl is commonly used in the softening process at the WTP and in residential or commercial softeners.

Funding opportunities

There are available sources of money to offset some of the costs of implementing practices that reduce chloride from entering surface and groundwater. Several programs, listed below, have web links to the programs and contacts for each entity. The contacts for each grant program can assist in the determination of eligibility for each program and funding requirements.

On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment to the constitution to:

  • protect drinking water sources;
  • protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat;
  • preserve arts and cultural heritage;
  • support parks and trails;
  • and protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

The Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Fund has several grant and loan programs that can be used for implementation of the BMPs, education and outreach, and WWTP modifications. The various programs and sponsoring agencies related to clean water funding and others are:

The WDs and WMOs may have individual grant opportunities for implementation of the BMPs and education and outreach activities.

The Minnesota Local Road Research Board’s Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program helps develop innovations in the construction and maintenance operations of local government transportation organizations and share those ideas statewide. The OPERA program encourages maintenance employees from all cities and counties to get involved in operational or hands-on research. The program funds projects up to 10,000 dollars through an annual request-for-proposal process.

Implementation of the BMPs for this project can sometimes require purchasing and/or upgrading equipment, which does not necessarily fit nicely into the conventional grant and loan programs. Some work will need to be done with the funding agencies in order to make grants and loans available for equipment purchase and/or upgrades.

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) funds water quality research that is funded through a competitive process. Apply for grants for research related projects here..

There are several grant and loan programs through the federal government for education and outreach and purchasing equipment and implementation of the BMPs. A list of federal grant programs can be found here.

This page was last edited on 23 November 2022, at 17:35.