The Township Board will seek bids on dust control services April 2 for the coming season, usually a routine practice, but of late area farmers and residents have been complaining that the salt brine used for the application causes rust and deterioration for their equipment and vehicles. So now voices are rising about whether dust control should be done at all.
The Hopkins Township Board last month voted 4-1 to scrap dust control altogether. Martin Township grappled with this issue during a very dry summer of 2012 and tried alternative substances with mixed results.
“There is growing concern about the corrosiveness of the materials we’re using,” Township Trustee Rod Zeinstra said. “And we’re not the only township hearing complaints about calcium chloride.”
Calcium chloride is the substance Southwest Michigan Dust Control has been using for the past two years, and Bruce Allan used it before that.
Michael Moore from M.W. Moore & Sons, who was in the audience as a bidder for lawn care services, told the board his company offers a more environmentally friendly alternative with calcium magnesium chloride, He acknowledged it is more expensive, but less of it would be needed to get the job done on the 43 miles of gravel roads in Watson that get the treatment.
He said it’s very possible only two instead of three applications would be necessary.
“You might be surprised by how much you can save with just two applications.”
A local couple who live on 14th Street also was in the audience and they both said they appeared to complain about what salt brine was doing to their vehicles, also suggesting the substance actually was doing damage to the road and making it more dangerous.
Zeinstra agreed, saying, “Road repair is not cheap, either.”
His wife, Michelle, in the audience, commented, “I’m not opposed to (applying) none and I live on a gravel road.”
But Supervisor Pam Brown said, “It’s about keeping dust out of residential homes and it’s a safety issue because it can be blinding and cause accidents.”
Trustee Chuck Andrysiak said he would rather explore options in dust control than ditch the process altogether, as did Hopkins.
“We may have to decide on the lesser of two evils,” agreed Zeinstra.
Brown said three potential bidders already have expressed interest in providing the service and she encouraged Moore to submit a bid as well. The board will examine bids at its April 2 meeting and make a decision then.