Milwaukee’s latest de-icing strategy: Cheese brine

MILWAUKEE (AP) — It’s a road Milwaukee’s been down before: What can the Department of Public Works add to rock salt to help de-ice streets in the winter?

While rock salt is plentiful and inexpensive, some have raised concerns about its long-term effects on roads and the environment. So, this winter, crews will sprinkle in a little cheese brine, the liquid waste product left over in the cheesemaking process. The only downside, the city says, is its distinctive odor.

Milwaukee has experimented with alternative de-icing products before, such as beet juice in 2009, which when mixed with salt in the city’s trucks turned into something resembling oatmeal, the Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/18SH4pm ) reported. The city has also used a molasses-type product in the past, but residents complained they were tracking the sticky stuff into their homes.

Polk County, in far western Wisconsin, has used cheese brine since 2009. Officials there say salt trucks spread 30 percent less road salt when using the cheese brine mixture. They also said using the cheese byproduct saved $40,000 in 2009-2010.

The county’s brine is supplied by F & A Dairy, which otherwise would have to find another way of disposing of the waste.

Milwaukee is looking for a mozzarella or provolone cheese brine supplier in the area. The closest cheese plants to Milwaukee are in Richfield, West Bend and Bristol, according to a city report.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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