The WMAt is a web‐based tool hosted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to assist Minnesota winter maintenance organizations in assessing and reducing salt use. The goal is that the WMAt be used as a resource to help inform the necessary decisions for improving winter maintenance programs for reduced salt use.
As part of the TCMA Chloride Management Plan development, this WMAt was designed and created for MPCA by Fortin Consulting under the guidance of a Technical Expert Team (TechEx) comprised of high performing local experts in the winter maintenance industry. The TechEx was used to gain a comprehensive understanding of Best Management Practices (BMPs) available to the snow and ice maintenance industry. The TechEx provided valuable information on detailed BMPs that are currently being used by various entities and the benefits they have seen by implementing these salt reducing BMPs. This team has been instrumental in the development of the WMAt that will assist winter maintenance organizations in developing their own customized salt reduction plan. Their knowledge, experience and dedication to using smart salting techniques have been utilized to create this first ever comprehensive evaluation of all available chloride reduction BMPs.
The tool allows an individual 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. It 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 practices with the flexibility to choose specific BMPs unique to each operation and the necessary timeframe to make those changes.
The WMAt asks different questions depending on the type of winter maintenance activities done by the user (high speed roads, low speed roads, parking lots, and/or sidewalks). An assessment is conducted to determine what the current and anticipated future practices (e.g., in 5 years) are for the user. Once an assessment has been completed a report can be generated summarizing current practices and areas identified for future improvement. In certain modes of the WMAt, past practices can be entered to give the user a more complete BMP change history from the past to the future.
See 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.