As supply shrinks, counties mix salt with 'grit'

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - All of this winter weather is really starting to take a toll on salt supplies.

Some counties around the region are starting to see shortages, including Hamilton County.

Despite Monday's blue skies and sunshine, winter is far from over. But, take a look inside Hamilton County's salt domes, and you'd think we're nearing the end of this winter season. As more and more snow falls, demand for salt continues to outpace supplies.

"We have ordered salt from our supplier, but so has everybody else. The supplies aren't coming in as fast as we'd like to see," said Ted Hubbard, Hamilton County engineer.

Of the 11 salt domes Hamilton Country draws from to treat their roads, they've only got a few thousand tons left to make it through winter. To stretch that supply, they're mixing "grit" with salt.

"When we spread the salt and sand mix, it gives traction. It doesn't melt the snow quite as fast as we might like, but at least it gives you traction," said Hubbard.

Hubbard says Hamilton County spends nearly $1 million a year on their salt supply to treat 1,500 miles of roadways.  This year, they bought more than 21,000 tons to take care of that.  Right now, they've got about 4,000 tons remaining.

"Right now we're at about 4,000, and we're mixing that with grit. So, that'll double the amount," Hubbard told FOX19.

Hubbard says they've got the money in the budget to cover salt purchases, and financially, things are okay right now. But, as the year goes on, that could change.

"Right now, we're okay. But, if this were to continue, and we have a real brutal winter in the second half of 2014, that could cause some issues," said Hubbard.

Hubbard says that during a typical snow season, they spend $2 million on salt, labor and equipment. At this point, he says they've already topped that number.

FOX19 checked in with other area counties for their salt situations. Clermont County has a low supply, and are expecting shipments soon.  Butler County's engineer tells FOX19 their supplies are okay, and they're expecting more salt soon, too.

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