Grounds management isn’t all planting, weeding & mowing. Several months each year are spent planning and implementing snow removal and salting strategies at many of our partner schools. Randy Novak, SSC’s Grounds Manager at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay, sat down with us to discuss what it takes to manage a grounds program at the university when the temperatures drop and snow begins to fall.
Smart Salting at UW- Green Bay
Salting is weather and temperature dependent. SSC team members monitor road and sidewalk temperatures with sensors installed in our equipment to determine when salting will be most effective, and how much salt will be needed. Monitoring the temperatures daily also provides data for each month on when is the optimal time to remove any ice that has not been previously removed.
Our goal is always to use the right amount of salt to get the job done- not too much and not too little. If too much salt is applied beforehand, the vehicle’s tires cast off the extra salt into the lawns or ditches and render our efforts useless. In turn this impacts the stormwater exiting the campus. SSC teams either pretreat with a light amount of salt to prevent ice from bonding with the pavement in the first place, or utilize new equipment that mechanically contours to the pavement for a better scrape.
Fun Fact: The University of Wisconsin- Green Bay SSC team is responsible for snow removal on 11 lane miles of road, 11 miles of sidewalks and 42 acres of parking lots.
Environmentally Conscious Salting
UW- Green Bay is located approximately one mile from the bay, which means that water quality and pollution are key factors monitored by the university. While we rely on salt to ensure roads are safe for vehicles and sidewalks are walkable for pedestrians, this mineral can also be highly damaging to the environment. According to WI Salt Wise, one teaspoon of salt can pollute five gallons of water. To ensure smart salting, UW-Green Bay requires SSC to complete training on smart salting practices through WI Salt Wise.
Fun Fact: One pound of salt can melt 46.3 lbs. of ice at 30-degree pavement temperature in 5 minutes. When the pavement temperature drops to 15 degrees that same one pound of salt can melt only 6.3 lbs. of ice in 1 hour.
At UW- Green Bay, snow is expected. As the campus was developed, it was designed with easy snow removal in mind. Many parking lots on campus have an extra 50-60 feet of green space used to deposit plowed snow during the winter. The SSC team maintains these extra greenspaces throughout the remainder of the year. On campuses without designated snow areas, teams often have to haul snow off to other locations to keep parking lots and roadways fully functional.
Fun Fact: With a new contour plow, SSC was able to plow an almost 1-acre parking lot in under 10 minutes.
It’s safe to say that removing snow and ice from campus requires far more planning than most realize. Because snow and weather are unpredictable, Randy and his team utilize an ever-changing snow plan for UW- Green Bay and are always prepared to adapt to conditions.
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