Snow plow plan: Wapak council chair favors new approach to battle snow on streets

One city elected official says he believes the best scenario is never having to utilize the equipment purchased for an emergency or for inclement weather, but he also realizes that thought is unrealistic.
Wapakoneta City Council 4th Ward Councilor Dan Graf said while the saying is often used by fire chiefs regarding fire trucks, he believes the adage can be applied to the harsh road conditions battled by members of the Public Works Department and local motorists.
He also thinks a new plan developed this year should help in fighting the war against ice and snow.
“I think everybody believes the new approach we’ve developed will be more effective otherwise we wouldn’t have instituted the changes we made,” said Graf, who chairs the Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee. “I really appreciate the fact that Public Works Superintendent Meril Simpson and Safety-Service Director Bill Rains took the time to sit down with members of the department and discuss what they thought would be the best practices for clearing the roads during and after an event.”
Graf said Simpson and Rains reviewed the previous plan of attack and at the routes the snow plows took to develop a new scheme for what they intend snow plow crews to do in the future.
“They will now hit the heaviest traffic areas first and they intend to plow around the clock if necessary,” Graf said of the new approach. “They used to plow when they came on shift in the morning, which was earlier than their normal shift, but now that has all changed and they hope by plowing around the clock, if necessary, it will help them keep on top of the storm and the snow it dumps.”
A new addition to the battle plan is brine. One of the city trucks has a tank for brine, or salt water, which will be part of a pre-treatment defense. The salt water will be sprayed on the roadway prior to an impending snow event.
Brine comes at no cost to the city since it is a by-product of treating water at the Wapakoneta Water Treatment Plant. In the past, the brine was dumped into the sanitary sewer and treated at the Wapakoneta Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Graf said the first snow event this year is the only situation where brine cannot be used.
“When it is raining first, the pre-treatment with brine is ineffective because the brine will wash off the roadway into the storm sewers with the rain,” Graf told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “We will have to wait to see how effective the pre-treatment is when a snow storm hits without a rain. It will not be effective if it is raining before it snows.”
The city also invested in three new spreaders for the snow plow trucks.
“Three of the trucks will be equipped with these new spreaders which will be able to more evenly distribute the salt they apply,” Graf said. “The spreaders adjust to the speed of the truck so the right amount of salt is spread.
“I also think it is great we are spreading pure salt and there is no grit in the mix,” said Graf, who reported the changes during a recent council meeting. “The grit was effective when it was applied, but it often melted through the snow with the salt and it didn’t affect the surface or provide traction for the vehicles. It was sitting on the street.”
Graf said he also believes the new plan should work because more vehicles are equipped with snow plows. He noted a total of eight trucks have the plows attached — six with the Public Works Department and two at the Wapakoneta Electric Department to assist during an event.
Other machinery will still be utilized to clean downtown streets and move the snow.
The new plan was developed after reviewing policies and procedures of other area cities and villages.
Graf said city administrators will continually review the effectiveness of the new approach and determine ways to improve what is being done.
“We all anticipate this will be better than in previous years,” Graf, who will be a councilor-at-large starting in January, said.