Snow shoveling season is here
With the first substantial snowfall of the season under our belts, now is a good time for residents and business owners to make sure they’re ready for the rest of sidewalk shoveling season. Sidewalks are a critical part of our city’s transportation system. That’s why Minneapolis ordinance requires that property owners clear sidewalks after a snowfall within 24 hours for houses and duplexes and four daytime hours for apartment and commercial buildings. For your own benefit and to help your neighbors who are walking, pushing strollers and using wheelchairs, please do your part.
When you shovel snow and clear ice, shovel the sidewalks on all sides of your property, the full width of the sidewalk down to the bare pavement. When possible, remove all ice from sidewalks. Remember, you are as responsible for clearing ice on your sidewalk as clearing snow. Ice can be more of a barrier and more dangerous than snow. The sooner and more completely you shovel, the less likely ice will form.
Check the salt
If you use salt or other chemical de-icers, use as little as possible. When they dissolve, they release harmful chlorides that may find their way into the closest lake, river or stream. As the snow and ice melts you don’t see the chemicals anymore, but they can flow into the storm sewer, which brings them untreated directly into the closest water body. Once the chloride gets into the water, it stays there accumulating because it doesn’t ever break down. As little as one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water is harmful to aquatic life and affects the taste of drinking water. Keep in mind:
Shovel first. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it can be. Then, break up ice with an ice scraper and decide if a de-icer (to melt ice) or sand (for traction) is even necessary.
15 degrees is too cold for most de-icers to work. Most stop doing their job when the temperature is below 15 degrees.
More de-icer does not mean more melting. Check the package directions for the safest and most effective use.
Sweep up extra de-icer. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement, it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away. The excess can be swept up and reused for the next snow or disposed of in the trash.
Check your local hardware store for alternative products. Follow package directions for the most effective use and least harm to the environment.
It may be impossible to remove bonded ice when the temperatures remain very low for extended periods. Shovel the best you can, and sprinkle a little sand to provide traction until you can remove the ice. Minneapolis provides free sand to residents in cases like this. See
For more information on healthier sidewalk snow and ice removal, visit www.minnehahacreek.org/education/keep-our-water-clean-home/snow-removal-and-salt
Don’t forget your garbage and recycling carts
Garbage and recycling collection crews are out working, even after a heavy snowfall. Make sure to clear a path three feet wide from your garbage and recycling containers to the alley or street. Also make sure the containers can be moved freely.
When it snows, some seniors in the city need help shoveling their walks. Want to lend them a hand this winter? The City is working with the Neighborhood Involvement Program to find individual volunteers or volunteer groups to commit to shoveling for at least one client for one month or for the entire winter. It's a great way to spend some time in the snow with friends and make a difference for a senior in your community.
Visit the Neighborhood Involvement Program website for more information and contact Jeanne Rasumssen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-746-8549 to sign up.
Report sidewalks that are not shoveled
To report a sidewalk that is not shoveled, you can file an online complaint, call 311 or use the 311 mobile app. If the City of Minneapolis gets a report or discovers that a sidewalk is not properly cleared, Public Works will send a warning letter and give the property owners a chance to clear it. If the sidewalk does not get cleared, the property owner may be issued a citation with a fine and crews will remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk. The property owner will be billed for this work, and unpaid bills will be added to the owner’s property tax.
Snow shoveling videos
When it snows, make sure to clear your sidewalks of snow and ice to keep them safe and avoid a possible fine from the City. Learn more in this edition of the Minneapolis "Did you know..." video series. The City of Minneapolis has videos in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali. Shoveling Snow (English)
Limpieza de Nieve (Shoveling Snow, Spanish)
Kev Kaus Daus (Shoveling Snow, Hmong)
Barafka Ka Xaaq Gurigaaga iyo Ganacsigaaga Hortooda (Shoveling Snow, Somali)
Published Dec. 10, 2013