Why Kelowna doesn’t use beet brine on winter roads

08 Nov 2023 3:19 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

Why Kelowna doesn’t use beet brine on winter roads - Kelowna News - Castanet.net

year ago this week, Kelowna drivers were slipping and sliding through an early snowfall.

So far, the forecast indicates only rain this week for the city, although Big White got a large dump of 15 centimetres Monday night and into Tuesday morning. As winter looms, the City of Kelowna is gearing up for winter road maintenance.

The city’s 2023 Snow and Ice budget is $2.475 million. Year-to-date, $1.46 million has been spent, between January and March. That leaves approximately $1 million in the kitty to plow, sand and de-ice roads from now until the end of December.

One thing you won’t see on the roads of Kelowna is beet brine. The naturally-sourced de-icing material has been used in a number of locations in recent years, most notably, in Calgary. It was also tried in a pilot project on the Coquihalla Highway starting in 2016/17.

“The biggest drawback to using beet juice is the same reason as to why disposal units in the sink, garburators, have been banned. Because we’re basically putting food out on the road,” explains City of Kelowna Infrastructure Operations department manager Geert Bos.

He says that raises environmental concerns because, as a food product, it will place a biological oxygen demand on waterways it runs into, making it more difficult for fish and other aquatic species to breathe.

“Even though it sounds counter-productive, that it’s environmentally friendly because it’s a waste food product, it’s actually quite damaging to the environment if it makes it into the open waterways.”

He says another drawback of beet juice is that it’s like molasses. It becomes tacky and can be dragged into homes and businesses, creating a sticky mess.

Instead, the city uses liquid calcium chloride, typically as a defense strategy before hard freeze or snow events. “It’s basically a calcium-based salt that is diluted. It’s a liquid that we disperse over the roads,” adds Bos, who notes it is essentially a chemical compound.

The city also applies road salt and sand to help drivers get traction and to melt compact snow down to “bare” pavement.

Last winter’s early snowfall, which came mostly in November and December, pushed Kelowna’s 2022 snow removal costs $1.17 million above the $2.2 million budget.

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