De-icing During Snow Storms
Posted on 02/08/2019

Cold temperatures during winter months frequently lead to icy and slick conditions. Newcastle follows pre-determined snow and ice routes to keep our roads clear, but sidewalks, driveways and parking lots are the responsibility of individual property owners. Snow removal and de-icing are essential for safe vehicle and pedestrian travel throughout Newcastle, however deicing can pollute our creeks and lakes if it is not done properly.

The best way to remove snow and ice from privately owned sidewalks, driveways and parking lots is by physical means like shoveling and snow blowing. Although shoveling can be challenging, it is effective and does not cause environmental harm. Snow blowing is less physically demanding but snow blowers can be loud and they typically cost a few hundred dollars. Because they are loud, snow blowers should only be used during allowable construction hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Removing snow before it compacts and becomes ice is the best way to prevent icy conditions. There are many de-icing products available for purchase, including salt and chemicals. As deicing products melt snow and ice, they mix with snowmelt and rain water and flow into stormdrains. Stormdrains lead to our creeks and lakes. If you choose to use chemical de-icing products, follow these instructions to reduce pollution:

1. Shovel and scrape at the first sign of snow. Keep shoveling throughout the snow event. De-icing products work best when there is only a thin layer of ice to remove.

2. Read the instructions on de-icing products. Different products work at different temperatures. If you apply a product at the wrong temperature, or apply the wrong amount of product, it won’t work, it will waste your money, and it will become pollution.

3. Apply products sparingly, at the first sign of ice. A little goes a long way, applying more won’t speed up the process.

4. After snow and ice melt, remove slush and place it in an area with bare soil, bark, or gravel. This will prevent the slush from re-freezing. It will also allow slush that has been polluted with de-icing products to infiltrate into the ground instead of flowing into stormdrains. Slush mixed with deicing products may damage or kill plants. If possible avoid placing it in planted areas.

5. If deicer remains on your sidewalk, driveway or parking lot after the storm ends, sweep or vacuum it up for use during a later storm. Do not sweep it into a storm drain.

6. If you spill de-icer, sweep or vacuum it up and use it in another spot.

7. Check the product packaging to learn how to properly dispose of it. Many de-icing products must be taken to hazardous waste disposal.

If you hire a private contractor to do snow and ice removal, don’t forget to share this information with the contractor and let them know it is important to you and your community.

Newcastle Knows Clean Water is a series brought to you by city Surface Water Specialist Kim Jones. Look for regular updates that give citizens an inside look at the city's Surface Water Management Division and how it impacts you! Questions about Newcastle Knows Clean Water? Contact kimj@newcastlewa.gov. See previous articles at newcastlewa.gov/cleanwater.

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