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Salt shortage has municipalities, private companies scraping by

Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 19:23:33-05

A salt shortage has municipalities and private snow plow companies scrambling to get through the season.

Sheboygan County is down to about a third of its supply. The county has been told if they run out of salt it would be very difficult to find more, so they’re making adjustments.

As Sheboygan County prepares for yet another round of snow to blanket their roads, the crews responsible for keeping them safe are making sure the little salt they have left lasts.

“It’s 70 percent sand and then 30 percent salt,” said Sheboygan County Transportation Director Greg Schnell.

Schnell started blending sand with their rock salt in January after their supply began to dwindle. The county has already used 7,500 tons of salt on their 2,200 miles of roadway.

“If there is going to be a shortage or we run out, the chances are, getting more salt is going to be difficult,” Schnell said. “Obviously we can’t control the weather and part of our responsibility is to provide safe roads.”

It isn’t just municipalities suffering through the shortage.

“We’ve had so many storms day after day after day that it’s creating a problem,” said Scott Schaefer.

Schaefer, the owner of Scotty Landscape Supply, plows snow for dozens of businesses in Sheboygan County.

“This particular salt is from St. Louis,” Schaefer said as he pointed to his pile.

Schaefer said there are three major salt suppliers for the state of Wisconsin. One was depleted last summer due to mine flooding and another had a worker strike leaving just one with a full supply.

Schaefer said snow plow companies like his are taking the biggest hit because major suppliers often prioritize municipalities.

“Everybody went from maybe $60-$70 a ton that they were paying to have at their doorstep (to) upwards of $150-$200 a ton,” he said.