Smart Salting training

Did you ever think about what happens to the tons of salt that goes on our roads, parking lots, and sidewalks each winter? Most of it ends up in our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. As a result, clean water in Minnesota is in jeopardy.

The MPCA’s Smart Salting trainings provide suggestions to improve operator effectiveness and for reducing chloride pollution while keeping the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks safe. Many organizations that have participated in the Smart Salting training have been able to reduce their salt use by 30-70%!

Learn how you and your organization can become Smart Salting certified.

Smart Salting Level 1 and Level 2 training schedule

Because of the initial success of the pilot project, Fortin Consulting has received a 319 grant to conduct additional training sessions in Minnesota. The following training schedule is changed periodically as training events are completed/added.

MPCA Smart Salting Level 1 Certification: Snow and ice control best practices

Through education and outreach, applicators of road salt can learn best practices and significantly reduce their use while maintaining road safety. There are two types of Smart Salting Level 1 training classes.  The first is for high/low speed snowplow drivers (roads class), and the second is for anyone maintaining private/public walkways and/or parking lots and service roads (parking lot/sidewalk class).

Who should participate?

  • State, city and county road maintenance staff
  • Contractors
  • Staff maintaining private/public walkways and/or parking lots
  • Property managers writing contracts, distributors of anti-icing/de-icing products
  • Other snowplow drivers—those who make it happen

Why Is it important? This class will help:

  • Save you money
  • Keep our parking lots and sidewalks safe
  • Protect our water
  • Get you certified

List of individuals certified

Certified individuals have attended training, passed a test, and agreed to use practices that reduce salt impacts on the environment: File Smart Salting Level 1 Certificate Holders (p-tr1-01)

For road maintenance organizations

MPCA Smart Salting Level 2 Certification: Winter Maintenance Assessment Tool (WMAt)

Level 2 certification is an organizational certification for both

private and public entities. An organization may provide one assessment submittal for the whole organization or multiple submittals, as long as each has a unique address. (i.e., the City of Medina, MNDOT’s Plymouth truck station, Ace Snow Removal west metro branch, or Johnson Lawn and Snow).

To become Smart Salting Level 2 certified, an organization must:

  • Login to the Winter Maintenance Assessment tool.
  • Complete the BMP and Salt Saving assessment for the most recent fully completed winter maintenance season.
    • For example, a report completed on January 1, 2018, will be based on the 2016/2017 winter maintenance season.
  • On the User Home Page of the WMAt complete the following steps:
    1. Click on the ‘Select Reports’ button on the bottom right-hand side of the screen
    2. Choose the appropriate completed reports from the Assessment for your organization
      • Reports should include all of the surface type(s) in which you are involved, not a separate report for each surface type
      • BMP Reports: Response Summary (Current)
      • BMP Reports: Comparison of Responses Between Assessment Periods (Current and Future)
      • Salt Savings Reports: Summary Report (Current and Future)
    3. Click the ‘Submit’ after the proper reports have been selected.
    4. After the reports have been submitted, if they are complete the WMAt will generate a certificate for your organization
    5. Return to the User Home Page of the WMAt and select ‘Print Certificate’
    6. The Certification Status section of the User Home Page will notify you when your Level 2 certification expires
  • Smart Salting Level 2 certification is valid for 2 years
  • Smart Salting Level 1 Voluntary certification is not required to obtain Level 2 certification, however it is recommended

For questions please contact:

List of organizations certified

Certified organizations have completed a winter maintenance assessment, a Level 2 application, and three required winter maintenance assessment tool reports:

Maintaining Level 2 certification

Organizations with Level 2 certification remain certified as long as they update and resubmit their Best Management Practices and Salt Savings reports. The MPCA is interested sharing in positive, salt-saving changes. If you have reduced your salt consumption due to a change in your practices, please let us know.

Private Applicators for Hire List

Individuals and businesses with Smart Salting Level 1 certification and available to be hired for winter maintenance services: File Certified Private Applicators (p-tr1-48)

Maintenance manual and in-truck clip board

Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance Manual - CoverIn early 2006, additional P2 funds were provided to develop written materials to be used by applicators. Under this approach, a technical advisory group was formed to provide input into a winter maintenance manual. It was originally thought the manual would be compact in an effort to encourage applicators to have it available in their vehicle. After a number of meetings with the technical advisory group it was decided to split off key charts and information critical to have in a vehicle before, during and after winter storm events. This created a stand alone manual and two pages of charts/critical information (clip board pages).

Additional winter maintenance resources


New Minnesota Model Snow and Ice Policies

Sample policies

Pollution prevention (P2) case study from road salt training

De-icing chemicals applied to roadways can impair water quality and habitat, and are costly for local governments to purchase and to apply. Fortin Consulting and the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program provided a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-sponsored winter maintenance training course for snowplow drivers in Dakota County Minnesota in November 2008. The goal was to improve operator effectiveness, and to reduce the amount of chemicals entering nearby water bodies. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the University of Minnesota's Water Resources Center (WRC) partnered to evaluate the training through a KAP study (knowledge, attitudes and practices). Beforehand a baseline was established. The study was repeated after two winter maintenance seasons and the results were compared. Fourteen months post-training, KAP results documented measureable improvements in driver knowledge, attitudes and practices related to specific application activities.

The study confirmed that the winter maintenance training fostered many changes. After Dakota County employees attended winter maintenance (road salt) training reductions in the use of chlorides were documented. For the 2008/2009 season the county used 14,175 tons of salt for thirty-five snow events, averaging 405 tons per event. For the 2009/2010 season the county used 9,585 tons of salt for twenty-seven events, averaging 355 tons per event. This correlates to about 40 million gallons of freshwater protected from chloride contamination per snow event.[1]  County staff attributed the decrease in salt from 405 to 355 tons to the use of computerized spreaders, the use of magnesium chloride, and to the winter maintenance training provided by Fortin Consulting in partnership with the MPCA. For detailed information concerning the P2 results of this study please refer to the following report:

Related links

HTML icon Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program

HTML icon Snow and ice control material application (CTAP)

PDF icon Minnesota snow and ice control - Field handbook for snowplow operators

HTML icon Clear Roads newsletter

This 20-minute video introduces best practices for winter maintenance of small spaces such as sidewalks, entryways, and steps. Guidance includes deicer material selection and application rates.

Training video: Winter maintenance training for small sites

Part 1 (10 min.)

Part 2 (10 min.)

The MPCA gives special thanks to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the University of Minnesota, and Fortin Consulting for producing this video.

If you hire out snow removal for your property, choose a contractor who is certified by the state in Snow and Ice Control Best Practices or encourage them to become certified. This list of certified practitioners is maintained by MPCA.

Why should I hire a certified contractor?

Many local lakes and streams have elevated levels of chloride, a common ingredient in road salt. In some cases, the chloride contamination is high enough to impact or even kill fish and other aquatic life. Winter snow and ice practices have been identified as the primary source of this chloride. Certified contractors have taken a training on how to mitigate the effects of de-icing materials on the environment, without compromising safety or effectiveness.

Voluntary certification in Snow and Ice Control Best Practices from the MPCA is given to individuals who:

  • Attended voluntary training
  • Complete and pass the associated test
  • Agree to voluntarily apply best management practices to reduce chloride impacts

Summer maintenance on your mind? Check out our summer turf grass maintenance training.