Edina Public Schools awarded for environmental leadership

Sadie Johnson Sieben, staff writer

On Feb. 7, Edina Public Schools was awarded the 2019 Environmental Leadership Award at the 2019 Road Salt Symposium. The award acknowledged the school district’s advanced techniques for managing ice and snow on the campuses and it led to Edina’s nomination into the Freshwater Society. The Freshwater Society is a nonprofit built on the goal to “inspire and empower people to value and conserve freshwater resources.”

Road salt is considered dangerous for the environment. Road salt is made of sodium chloride like table salt, but it is a much more firm type of salt. Road salt is purified, but the chemical break up of the compound is the start of the problem for our planet. The salt lowers the freezing point of water, which then melts the ice and snow that covers the streets.

In 2012, the district used up to 84 palettes of salt as stated in a press release by Edina Public Schools. In 2014, the district decided that their tactics for salting needed to change. Buildings and grounds managers attended the Smart Salt training, which was offered through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The purpose of the training was to teach workers how to use new equipment the district invested in, compact utility machines, a Toolcat and a Ventrac.

The district-wide grounds supervisor, Brent Kaley, discussed the techniques they use in the Edina Sun Current,We saw the city using a salt brine on the ground, which led my former supervisor and me to create a tank and our own system for applying salt brine. Initially, we used a spray painting tank to contain the salt brine, but now we have to use bigger tanks because we are expanding the use of salt brine to all district sites,” Kaley added. Now the district uses a four-step process, which includes: applying the salt brine overnight, clearing the snow by blowing it, brooming the surfaces of sidewalks and parking lots, and finally, using drop spreaders to evenly distribute the salt. By using this process, the district only uses an average of 14 palettes of salt annually.

With the help of the school district, their reduction of salt use will prevent water contamination in nearby waterways. Remember, an easy way to reduce water contamination in Edina is to use less salt on your own driveways and entrances such as the district did. To learn more about how to be more environmentally friendly and decrease water contamination you can learn more on the Freshwater’s Society website.