The lighter side of winter road-salt decisions
October 22, 2007
Truckee’s annual purchase of salt for road de-icing briefly raised some red flags at Thursday’s Truckee Town Council meeting.
Part of the evening’s routine consent calendar, the council was asked to approve the $31,000 purchase of sodium chloride from Huck Salt and Son for the coming winter.
But, playing the straight man, council member Mark Brown questioned some of the possible effects of the town’s de-icing operations.
Brown asked Public Works Director Dan Wilkins about the potential interactions between salt and dihydrous monoxide, and what those interactions could do to area roads, groundwater, and even the health of Truckee residents.
“Road salt accelerates the conversion of dihydrous monoxide from a solid to a liquid, which can cause damage to the roads,” Wilkins responded with mock gravity. “By converting it to a liquid, that also creates a higher opportunity to infiltrate into the aquifers.”
Despite Wilkins’ assurances that the compound was safe, Brown pressed the subject, suggesting that dihydrous monoxide could be lethal if inhaled as a liquid.
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Other council members and spectators grew visibly uneasy with talk of a potentially lethal chemical infiltrating the water supply. Vice Mayor Barbara Green asked if it was possible to remove the compound from the aquifers.
Struggling to keep a straight face, Brown asked Wilkins for another name for dihydrous monoxide.
Water, Wilkins replied, was dihydrous monoxide or H20.
After the laughter subsided, the council unanimously approved the purchase of road salt without further comment.