Mid-Missouri cities check salt supply as winter progresses

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JEFFERSON CITY - This winter has brought above-average levels of snow and ice to mid-Missouri, and now, crews across the area are eyeing their supplies of salt. With more than a month of winter left, some cities now have to worry about rationing their remaining supply.

Britt Smith is the Director of Operations for Jefferson City Public Works. He says this winter has been higher than average for precipitation. The city usually plans on purchasing 3,500 tons of salt. 

This year, though, the department has already used about 2,800 tons of salt. However, that didn't include what was used Wednesday night, or what was used last night. 

In Centralia, Public Works Director Mike Forsee said the city only starts the year with 100 tons of salt. They've used upwards of 40 tons already this winter, but he said that's normal for this point in the year. In fact, Forsee said the city has used less salt this year than it had last year at the same point. 

More winter weather is predicted for Friday, and Smith said that more snow creates more challenges for the department. 

"It's heavy wear on the equipment, it's heavy wear on the employees... working long hours," he said. "Certainly a lot of guys would like some overtime every once in awhile, but when that becomes every night, every week, every weekend, that certainly starts to wear on the employees." 

Forsee said that while Centralia can order more salt, the tricky part is "trying to figure when to ration when needed and how long between loads showing up."

If either department were to run through their salt budget before winter ended, they'd need a special appropriation from their respective cities to be able to order more.