Smart Salting training helps improve operator effectiveness and reduce chloride pollution while keeping roads, parking lots, and sidewalks safe. Participating organizations have been able to reduce their salt use by 30 to 70%. In addition, the training has been shown to prevent chloride contamination in lakes, rivers, and streams.
Trainings for hands-on winter maintenance professionals
Smart Salting certification training provides winter maintenance professionals the opportunity to learn best practices to reduce their salt use while maintaining safety and minimizing impacts on the environment and infrastructure. Participants earn a five-year certification for attending this 5.5-hour training and passing the test.
We offer Smart Salting for Roads and Smart Salting for Parking Lots and Sidewalks certification trainings for all winter maintenance professionals.
What you'll learn:
- what are the environmental impacts of chloride
- how to calibrate equipment
- how to use weather condition info more efficiently
- how to set application rates
- best practices for plowing and physical removal
- best management practices (BMPs) for storing materials
- de-icing and anti-icing
- regulatory issues and managing liability
- chloride requirements in the 2020 MS4 permit
- available educational resources for customers and staff
- what educational resources are available to customers and staff
- success stories
Who should attend:
- Roads training – hands-on public or private snowplow operators who maintain roads
- Parking Lots and Sidewalks training – hands-on public or private winter maintenance staff who maintain walkways and/or parking lots including parks staff, private contractors, and staff that perform property winter maintenance activities
Smart Salting certification refresher trainings
Participants in these three-hour refreshers will learn about the impacts of salt on the environment, learn the fundamentals of Smart Salting, and take a deeper look into specific topic areas like winter weather tools and more. Participants must have current Smart Salting certification to attend. See the certification list below to verify current certifications.
This training is designed to meet MS4 annual chloride training requirements but does not extend any certification. A proof of attendance is provided.
Anybody who has a current Smart Salting Level 1 Certification should attend. That includes:
- city, county, or state plow drivers
- private winter maintenance contractors and staff
- those who supervise winter maintenance professionals
Refresher trainings focus on four key areas:
- Liquids - This refresher provides a closer look at liquids application, conditions, equipment maintenance, brine making and storage. It provides winter maintenance crews a basis to understand benefits, troubleshoot issues, and find opportunities for additional use of liquids.
- Weather for Winter Maintenance - This refresher provides a closer look at weather, prediction tools, and in-time pavement conditions. It provides winter maintenance crews a basis to develop strategies for product use, frequency, and application rates for each winter event.
- Smart Salting 101 - This refresher provides a review of winter maintenance principals from understanding maintenance areas to preparing and choosing the appropriate equipment for each winter event. These principals help crews save time and money and minimize impacts to the environment.
- Salt and Snow Storage – This refresher provides a detailed discussion about best practices of granular and liquid salt storage as well as strategies for proper snow storage to reduce snowmelt problems. This refresher also covers the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit’s chloride requirements in detail.
Training for property managers, business owners, and environmental professionals
Learn how to reduce indoor and outdoor salt damage and related costs, recognize sustainable practice suggestions among maintenance crews, hear ideas for managing liability, and more. Learn about the hidden costs of salt use on properties. Gain understanding and take a comprehensive look at winter maintenance strategies to discover possible improvement areas. The four-hour training also covers the new chloride requirements in the MS4 permit. Participants earn a three-year certification.
What you'll learn:
- how to improve winter maintenance efficiency
- how to save money with reduced salt expenses and less damage to infrastructure and vegetation
- how to best store salt and snow to reduce chloride runoff
- how to manage regulatory requirements and liability
- how to reduce complaints by managing customer and staff expectations
- how to protect Minnesota's valuable water resources from the permanent environmental impacts of chloride pollution
Who should attend:
- management-level property managers
- business owners
- private contractors
- environmental professionals
- MS4 permit staff
- public works directors and local government decision-makers
- public and private property owners and managers
- those who hire or supervise winter maintenance staff
Smart Salting for Community Leaders workshop
Participants in these two-hour online workshops will learn about the effects of chloride on the environment and on infrastructure and will be offered specific action steps and policies that can help reduce salt pollution in their communities.
Who should attend:
- local elected officials
- members of sustainability and environmental commissions
- board members of housing associations, neighborhood associations, and watershed districts
- environmental advocates
- local decision makers
Host a training or workshop for your organization!
The Smart Salting training program is rooted in partnerships with local organizations to offer trainings.
Whether you want to get your crew trained on-site or want to provide Smart Salting Certification training opportunities to everyone in your community, we rely on these partnerships to make our program successful. Hosts advertise the training, provide a venue if hosting an in-person training, and cover a portion of the cost for the training. The Community Leaders workshop has no cost share at this time due to support from the Minnesota GreenCorps program.
Contact the chloride reduction program at MPCA to discuss hosting a training or workshop at email@example.com.
Certification and tools for organizations
Smart Salting tool
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has recently updated and redesigned its Smart Salting tool to help communities and organizations across the state evaluate sources of chloride impacting local water resources. The Smart Salting tool also provides support and guidance on how to address those sources.
The Smart Salting tool is now a comprehensive chloride reduction tool and includes these key features and more:
- mapping feature to select specific geographic area for customized evaluation of chloride sources
- detailed information for each source of chloride
- guidance for how to collect additional information and data
- option to modify estimated chloride contributions with local data
The Smart Salting tool can help organizations and communities address chloride pollution by supporting a customized approach:
- Develop a chloride reduction action plan for your community or organization.
- Assist with MPCA permit reporting requirements related to chloride.
- Evaluate your winter maintenance or dust suppressant best management practices and plan for changes to reduce chloride use and determine your salt savings.
- Obtain a Smart Salting Level 2 certification for your organization.
Organization level 2 certification – winter maintenance assessment
Organizations can earn level 2 certification by assessing their salt use using the Smart Salting tool and taking steps to minimize their salt use. Participants can obtain certification by using the tool directly or working through it in a level 2 training.
Level 2 trainings are available each July and December. Participants earn a two-year certification that they can renew by submitting the required reports.
The tool will generate a list of current best management practices (BMPs) and a comparison of current BMPs to future BMP goals along with a salt savings assessment to estimate monetary savings due to salt reduction.
To earn level 2 certification:
- Create an account in the Smart Salting tool.
- Access the winter maintenance assessment section of the tool.
- For your whole organization, branch, or facility:
- Complete the Level of Service assessment.
- Complete the BMP assessment for the most recently completed winter maintenance season (e.g., a January 1, 2022, report would be based on the 2020/2021 season) and future winter maintenance season.
- Complete the salt savings assessment.
Submit these assessments under “Submit for Certification” on the winter maintenance assessment starting page. If the submitted assessments are complete, the tool will generate reports and a Level 2 certificate for your organization.
Chloride source assessment
The source assessment section of the Smart Salting tool allows any organization to view an estimate of the various sources of chloride in their chosen area, whether it’s a city, county, or watershed. The tool provides more information about chloride, its sources, resources for chloride best management practices, and the option to create a personalized action plan to better understand the sources of chloride in your community and steps to reduce chloride from those sources.
There are specific pathways to guide wastewater and MS4 permittees through developing the required permit reports and plans related to chloride.
Smart Salting Certified individuals and organizations
Training success stories
In Dakota County, the MPCA and its partners tracked effectiveness of Smart Salting training through two winters. Fourteen months after the county's snow plow drivers took the course, the evaluation showed measureable improvements. In the first season after the training, the county used 14,175 tons of salt for 35 snow events (average 405 tons/event). In the next season, the county used 9,585 tons of salt for 27 events (average 355 tons/event). This correlates to about 40 million gallons of freshwater protected from chloride contamination per snow event. Learn more:
Winter maintenance staff from cities/counties and private companies who have attended the Smart Salting training have used their knowledge to reduce salt use and save their money for their organizations.
- Learn more about Minnesota entities that have reduced salt use (Minnesota Stormwater Manual).
- Wisconsin Salt Wise also has some compelling case studies of winter maintenance organizations that have reduced their salt use.
- Minnesota salt-tolerant plants (MPCA Stormwater Manual)
- MnDOT Plant Selector Program
- The effects of deicing salts on landscapes (University of Minnesota Extension)
- Salt reduction best practices (New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services) — Offers best management practices guidance documents developed as part of a multi-year survey of the best and most applicable technology.
- Winter salt certification training resources (WI Salt Wise) — All the resources used in the Madison, Wis., winter salt training course, grouped by subject.
- Salt solutions program (MnDOT) — Find useful resources on MnDOT's program that include information on liquid de-icing.
- Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) — Offers resources that include a Snow and ice control material application workshop and Minnesota Snow and Ice Control, a handbook for snowplow operators.
- Clear Roads newsletter — From national research consortium that focuses on testing winter maintenance materials, equipment, and methods.
- Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) – A trade organization that offers a variety of resources and information targeted to private snow and ice management professionals.
The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, University of Minnesota, and Fortin Consulting produced two videos to introduce best practices for winter maintenance of sidewalks, entryways, and steps, and offers guidance on deicing materials and application rates.