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Familiar Signs of Spring: Birds, Flowers, and Sand

Ah, the familiar signs of spring have finally arrived… birds chirping, flowers blooming, and street cleaners blowing big clouds of sandy dust into the air.

Seeing the street cleaners each spring always reminds me to the fact that, if Bismarck would ditch the sand and switch to potassium acetate to treat ice on our streets, there would be no need to clean up the endless piles of sand spread across our streets and boulevards each year. Not to mention that potassium acetate is far more effective than sand.

Cost is one of the most commonly cited reasons for using sand over salt, or the increasingly more popular potassium acetate solution. What many fail to take into account is the added costs involved in cleaning up the sand each spring after the snow disappears.

Of course, the city would still have to send out its fleet of cleaners each spring to clean up our streets, but the time and effort involved in the task would be significantly reduced, and as such would the cost.

Numerous studies have been conducted in cities across the nation, small and large, which show reduced costs by switching to potassium acetate, or a similar solution, despite that it costs more upfront than sand. The reason for that is, the lower costs involved in cleanup each spring.

I swear more of the sand ends up in my boulevard and home each year than in the street anyway. Which means I have to spend extra time and money cleaning it up myself.

Now, I know people argue that potassium acetate is more corrosive than sand, which indeed it is, but it is also far less corrosive than salt. In this day in age, most newer cars have an anti-corrosion coating and long warranties covering it. Potassium acetate is also far less damaging to the environment than similar solutions used, such as calcium chloride or magnesium chloride.

I had applauded the City of Bismarck last October, when they announced that they were testing a new ice prevention solution using potassium acetate; however, I am sad to say that I had seen absolutely no evidence of it being tested last season, even on major arterials like State Street or Expressway.

Wouldn’t it be great if we wouldn’t see the clouds of dust each spring, or have to clean out the sand grounded into our carpets and boulevards?

I know I sound like a broken record on this issue, but it is one of the single biggest issues I support. I am extremely convinced that potassium acetate is the right way to go.

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