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Speaking Out
February 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 24

Too Many Grains of Salt?

The Philadelphia Water Department Watersheds Division, in conjunction with a host of other organizations is trying to manage both the amount of storm water run-off and limit the contamination of storm water run-off: see   www.phila.gov/water/protect.html.

In response to the recent snow and ice storm, Penn has salted its pavements well beyond what is necessary for safety. In many places, the salt coating is so thick as to obscure the pavement below. In other places there are inches thick heaps of spilled salt. If Facilities either adjusted its equipment and/or instructed its staff to use only a judicious quantity of salt, Penn could have safe, ice-free walks, save some money on cost of salt or snow-melt chemicals and eliminate a nasty, toxic addition to the Schuylkill.

—Cheryl Shipman, Coordinator,
Research & Fellowships, CURF


Facilities and Real Estate Services is responsible for insuring that the campus is free of snow and ice during inclement weather. This recent snowstorm provides a typical example of how we achieve this objective. Last week, we brought in a crew of eight staff members at 2 a.m. to begin plowing snow, and continued those efforts throughout the duration of the storm. Once the storm had run its course, we used salt spreaders on our four pickup trucks and four smaller vehicles to salt the campus and keep the pathways clear and safe for pedestrians.

Due to the nature of this season’s weather pattern, we have had a higher occurrence of short duration storms, which require salting after each one. The reader may have noticed a buildup of salt that may have occurred during multiple salting after successive storms. In addition, Facilities staff noticed that one of our pickup trucks was spreading too much salt, and adjusted that truck’s salt spreader in advance of the most recent storm. That adjustment will also reflect the amount of salt on the campus walkways.

—Michael Coleman, Executive Director,
Operations and Maintenance
Facilities and Real Estate Services


Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday’s issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. —Eds.

Almanac - February 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 24