The city of Elgin, Illinois, will need to spend $1.1 million to fill its salt domes this year, according to a story by the Chicago Tribune. Last winter, the city depleted almost its entire supply of salt thanks to 19 inches of snow and 39 snow and ice incidents.
Last winter’s record snowfall reduced the city’s salt supply to fewer than 1,000 tons. This year, the department is buying 11,000 tons to fill its three snow domes to capacity, Public Works Superintendent Aaron Neal says in the story.
Elgin’s city council authorized a $1.1 million contract with Compass Minerals America Inc. through the state of Illinois Central Management Services Joint Purchasing Cooperative.
“We have about 6,000 tons of salt, just under half of full capacity,” Neal says in the story. “We can make it through a substantial portion of the snow and ice season as we sit today. Ordering 11,000 tons of salt under this contract should provide us enough salt to get through the season.”
The Public Works Department uses about 8,000 tons of road salt in an average winter, Neal says. The city usually fills its domes by the end of August with about 11,000 to 13,000 tons but had a delay this year. The state of Illinois didn’t contact the department or the 500 agencies in the cooperative about the salt purchase arrangement until the first week of October.
Illinois officials were “apologetic, but that does not help us in filling our salt domes,” Neal says. The city council’s approval allows Elgin’s Public Works Department to start getting salt delivered as soon as possible. “The goal would be by mid-December to have our domes at full capacity, then still have enough remaining on this purchase to periodically refill during the season going into 2020.”
The extreme weather during the 2018-19 winter caused a salt shortage at the height of the season, Neal says. Other areas around the country also suffered shortages of the snow-melting compound.
Elgin’s 39 snow and ice events required crews to go through 9,700 tons of salt, Neal says, and the salt stockpile was reduced to less than 1,000 tons. A shortage caused salt deliveries to slow, so the city had to buy salt from a third-party trucking vendor at a higher rate per ton and this year, the cost of salt is projected to increase due to supply issues.
“We had a tough winter last year and we’re working on ensuring the domes are where they should be,” Neal says. This year’s purchase is a “reflection of how tough last year was.”