The Smart Salting Assessment Tool (SSAt) is a web‐based tool hosted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to assist organizations with assessing and reducing salt use during winter maintenance and dust control activities. The goal is for the SSAt to be used as a resource to help inform necessary decisions for improving winter maintenance and dust control programs for reduced salt use.

As part of the development of the Twin Cities Metro Area (TCMA) and Statewide Chloride Management Plans, the SSAt was designed and created for the MPCA by Fortin Consulting and LimnoTech. Development of the tool was under the guidance of a Technical Expert Team (TechEx) comprised of statewide experts in the winter maintenance industry and those involved with the application of chloride for dust control. The TechEx was consulted with to gain a comprehensive understanding of Best Management Practices (BMPs) available to the snow and ice maintenance industry and those involved with dust suppression on unpaved roads and trails. The TechEx provided valuable information on detailed BMPs that are currently being used by various entities and the reductions they have witnessed by implementing these salt reducing BMPs. This team has been instrumental in the development of the SSAt, a tool that will assist other individuals and organizations involved with winter maintenance and dust control in developing their own customized salt reduction plans. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication to using smart salting techniques have been utilized to create this comprehensive evaluation of available chloride reduction BMPs.

The SSAt allows individuals and organizations to assess their current practices and speculate on potential future practices to understand how to reduce the use of chlorides while still providing an acceptable level of service. Utilization of this planning tool will allow the user to track their progress over time and show the results of their efforts. The tool generates reports summarizing current and predicted BMPs sorted into advanced, standard, and remedial practices. It also can predict salt savings (with a low degree of accuracy) based on the industry’s current salt savings research, on a per practice basis. This can serve as both a reporting mechanism to understand the current practices and as a planning tool to understand the impacts of implementing improved practices. The planning side of the tool will highlight the opportunities to improve winter maintenance and dust suppression practices with the flexibility to choose specific BMPs unique to each operation and the necessary timeframe to make those changes.

The SSAt creates detailed assessments of the BMPs used based upon a level of service achieved (bare pavement, non-bare pavement, gravel roads) and the surface types (high-speed roads, low-speed roads, parking lots, sidewalks/trails) treated by a maintenance professional or organization. The assessment process is designed to be updated from season to season so that past, current, and anticipated future practices (e.g., in 5 years) are used in reporting progress and estimated reductions. Once an assessment has been completed, a report can be generated that summarizes current practices and areas identified for future improvement. In certain modes of the SSAt, past practices can be entered to give the user a more complete record of how their BMPs have changed with time.

The MPCA may make updates to the SSAt from time to time as new BMPs are identified and as the science and technology of surrounding chloride in the environment and chloride reduction strategies change. This tool may also be expanded on in the future for inclusion of BMPs applicable for residential and industrial water softening practices.

Please visit the MPCA’s Salt and Water Quality website for more information about the environmental impacts of chloride, the TCMA Chloride Management Plan and the MPCA’s Winter Maintenance training.