Snow Surplus -- Salt Shortage

Measuring spoons filled with salt


JEREMY HOBSON: Well for about a third of the U.S. population, this is going to be another stormy week. A huge winter storm is expected to bring snow and ice to Texas, Maine, and just about everywhere in between. In many places, there's already a lot of snow on the ground. And local governments are worried they won't have enough salt to keep roads clear.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.

EVE TROEH: Morton Satin is vice president of the Salt Institute in Washington DC. He says sodium chloride is everywhere.

MORTON SATIN: It's just salt, of which we have a limitless supply.

But in winter it's more difficult and expensive to haul salt. So, he says, governments need better planning.

SATIN: That means investing in the infrastructure to store as much as you need locally.

He says that need is getting harder to predict.

SATIN: Our pattern appears to be changing.

Salt won't melt snow in extreme cold, Satin says. But now northern states are having warmer winters, so they're using more. Plus, the mid-west and south are getting snow when they didn't used to.

South Carolina transportation engineer David Cook says his state spent all its emergency funds on a recent storm.

DAVID COOK: We don't really even budget for winter storms because we may go a year or two where we really don't have any.

Now, his department wants to built more sheds to store salt. But there's no money.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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