Kosher salt used on some roads this winter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Kosher salt used on some roads this winter

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Many eastern Iowa road departments are still digging out from a financial hole after last year's severe winter.  One area road department found a free solution to help bolster a dwindling salt supply.

The Fayette County Road Department saw its road salting and plowing costs double last winter.

This winter has been just as bad.

The department's already exhausted its snow and ice removal budget.

Now, it's found a quick fix for free.

One salt pile at the Fayette County Roads Department is actually kosher salt -- a waste product from AgriProcessors in Postville.

"It's just as effective as normal rock salt. It might be a little more effective because the smaller grain will react with water faster to produce brine," said JD King, Fayette County Engineer.

King says the county now has about 70 to 80 tons of kosher salt to mix in to create brine.

The kosher salt is in addition to 250 tons of salt from the Iowa Department of Transportation and 400 tons of salt shipped by rail from Utah.

Those measures had to be taken after the normal supplier told the county it couldn't provide salt this year.

On top of that, prices are higher and winter's been worse than normal.

"If we can't gain more revenue in to the secondary road fund, road use tax fund, sooner or later services will be degraded. Certainly, we try not to do that, try to be as efficient as we can but we don't go out unless we have to," said King.

Last month, the county reached its yearly budget of $250,000 on snow and ice removal.

Last year, the county spent $560,000.

That's $310,000 more than the budget.

That means new equipment and construction will have to wait at least another year or two.

The hope is "Old Man Winter" will calm down and the kosher salt supply will be restocked.

"This is a way that we are seeking to reduce cost and recycle a waste product. We believe it's good for the economy and for the environment," said King.

The salt is a byproduct of the chicken processing operation at AgriProcessors.

Because kosher salt is considered a solid waste product, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources had the county submit the salt to several tests to make sure it's safe.

AgriProcessors salt donation is also saving that company money while it goes through bankruptcy.

Formerly, the salt was trucked to Milwaukee.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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