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Developing a Snow and Ice Control Environment Best Management Practices Manual

Started: December, 2013 Ended: May, 2015 Project ID #4W4760 Status: Completed

Results & Findings

Through this project, a manual on environmental best management practices used for snow and ice control was developed using information gain from a literature review, survey, and follow-up interviews. The document presents information on commonly used snow and ice control products and their potential impacts, and pathways into the environment. In addition, the manual includes information on many aspects of snow and ice control operations from material handling and storage, application techniques and equipment, advanced technology for decision making, environmental management tools, pre-storm to mid-storm practices, post storm clean-up, and training. The manual summarizes common areas for improvement in snow and ice control practices to realize material and cost saving, while reducing impacts to the environment.


The objectives of this project are to analyze and compare impacts of the following winter maintenance materials – chlorides, abrasives, acetates, formates, glycerols, and various organic by-products, with a focus on their effectiveness and environmental footprint; and to compile information and best practices for using chlorides in a snow and ice control program.


DOTs are seeking out sustainable practices through the use of newer technology to reduce the cost of snow and ice control operations, while maintaining the same or better level of service (LOS). Proactive approaches can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to reduce the amount of snow and ice control products used, lost or wasted. Best practices are expected to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of winter operations, to optimize material usage, and to reduce associated annual spending and environmental footprint.   In comparison, reactive approaches which remove snow and ice control products following application can be costly to construct and maintain. Many of the reactive strategies (infiltration trenches and basins, detention, retention, and evaporation ponds, wetland and shallow marshes, vegetated swales and filter strips) are designed for and are frequently used in stormwater management and do not actually treat or remove chlorides from the highway stormwater runoff. There is a need for further research in the design options, performance and cost-effectiveness of reactive strategies for managing the footprint of snow and ice control products (abrasives, chlorides, and other chemicals).   As more states are exploring the impacts of roadway chloride deicers, including voluntary and regulatory controls to reduce their impacts, this project seeks to assess and describe the environmental impacts of chlorides and alternative deicers to roadside soils, water, vegetation, and wildlife and to consolidate the existing snow and ice control practices into a comprehensive Snow and Ice Control Environmental Best Management Practices (BMPs) Manual that will provide the most up-to-date recommendations based on published research as well as practitioner surveys.


Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) Sponsor

Part of: Winter Maintenance and Effects, Cold Climate Operations & Systems

Project Tagged In: winter maintenance, snow and ice control

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