Beet juice saves about $7,000
The city’s first winter of using a beet juice solution and salt brine to de-ice streets saved an estimated $7,000 on sand and labour in November and December, City of Merritt Public Works Superintendent Darrell Finnigan said.
The beet juice mixture and the salt brine cost about $1,500, compared to about $3,800 for the 27 loads of sand it would’ve taken to do the same 11 jobs. Unlike sand, the beet juice and brine solutions don’t require cleanup, which Finnigan said saved the city even more on labour.
He estimated the city saved nearly $5,000 and 55 hours of labour needed to clean up the sand come spring.
“At the end of the day, if we can keep one dump truck load of sand off the streets, it relates to cost savings down the road with taking it off and then trucking the sand away,” Finnigan said.
The beet juice mixture is used to pre-treat roads before snowfall to help wick it away and prevent buildup, while the salt brine helps speed up melt time. Public Works applied the solutions on the city’s main thoroughfares, but Finnigan said that with the money the city saved, they’re looking at expanding it next year.
“It did go fairly well this year and we’re hoping to expand it next year and do a little more through town instead of the main road and the hills,” he said. “It’s proving to be worthy to do it, and we will definitely consider using it next year and go from there.”
Finnigan said not everybody was as pleased with how the solutions worked, particularly on crosswalks, which are a challenge for his department every year.
“We’d sand a crosswalk, a car would go by and kick the sand off, and then there would be a big slippery spot,” Finnigan said. “We could go around that same corner every 20 minutes and still have slippery spots. Once it freezes solid, you can’t touch it.”
However, Finnigan said the department received fewer complaints about snowy streets than in previous years — which he said was likely a combination of the treatments and the relatively mild winter.
He said the department expects to start cleaning the streets for spring in the next three to four weeks, depending on the weather.