In order to keep the roads clear, Eau Claire County used the 5th largest amount of salt among 72 Wisconsin counties during the 2016-2017 winter months.
The Eau Claire County Highway Department uses so much salt because Eau Claire County highways are heavily trafficked according to Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner, Jon Johnson.
Public demand led the department to increase its salt use by 40 percent a few years ago. The average Wisconsin county uses 15 tons per lane mile, Eau Claire uses 20.4 tons per mile.
That means in the Chippewa Valley, we use 18,000 pounds more than average.
"We're going to have to lower our salt usage which is a level of service reduction. We want the public to know that we're ranked number five in the state. We're trying to provide the best service we can, but as we go forward we may need to start using more liquid salt like salt water and less salt like rock salt and that may impact the level of service which means basically please slow down," Johnson said.
Johnson said law enforcement have told him they've seen fewer highway accidents within the past winter. He said it's possible state officials would ask them to lower how much salt the highway department uses, but that would potentially lead to poorer road conditions.
Johnson said the department is researching other options to utilize instead of salt. He said public input may help them when it comes to decided what alternatives they can use. He said the public can visit the Eau Claire County Facebook page.