"Salt conservation mode:" Milwaukee now using less road salt, spreading at a lower rate

MILWAUKEE (WITI) --The city of Milwaukee is doing things a little differently this winter, when it comes to how they use their salt.

They're in "salt conservation mode," which means the Department of Public Works is using less salt, and spreading at a lower rate than last year.

"You had to drive slow because the roads were real slippery," said Ken Hart, driving in Milwaukee.

One hundred and two crews hit the roads, but on the main thoroughfares and even more on the side streets, the snow is not melting very fast.

The frigid temperatures make rock salt less effective, and the city using less of it, are reasons why.

"We actually have a finite amount that we are set with for this winter, which is different than it has been in past winters," said Sanitation Services Manager for the City of Milwaukee, Wanda Booker.

DPW crews use calcium chloride, a chemical that makes the salt work better, when temperatures dip below 20 degrees.

But the city of Milwaukee does not have a reserve pile of salt this year.

The 53,000 tons they purchased will have to be enough.

That is approximately what the city used from January last year, through the last snowfall in April, according to DPW leaders.

"So we have to balance the amount of salt we use on each operation, so we can ensure that we have salt throughout the season," said Booker.

For Tuesday's snow operations, that means stretches of side streets will not get as much attention.

'What we plan to do is just salt at the intersections and stops today, in order to conserve our salt inventory," said Booker.

DPW leaders say this has to do with supply and demand. Salt piles around the country are depleted because of last year's harsh winter. The salt that is left, is expensive.

Eventually, all the side roads will get plowed, the DPW says the snow just has to melt a little, so the plows can scoop it up.

"I think we`ll just have to just make the best of it, we`ll have to slow down and do the best we can," said driver Erma Mosley.

In snow operations earlier this year, the city of Milwaukee has mixed salt with sand, in an effort to conserve salt.