DERRY — Derry plans to use at least 10 percent less salt next year and save the town about $20,000.

Mike Fowler, Derry's public works director, said the town is joining the state's salt reduction program, which will make it eligible to receive some of the $2.5 million in federal money designated for the program. It will go toward upgrading equipment the town uses in treating roads during snow and ice storms.

A meeting is being scheduled for next month so the Town Council can approve joining the program.

Fowler said the state has asked communities to decrease salt usage because the widening of Interstate 93 will add more salt to the Beaver Brook watershed and other watersheds.

The town is working on a salt management plan with the University of New Hampshire, which will specify how much salt should be used on main and residential streets, according to Fowler.

The program should start next winter and Fowler said the town will try to start by using 10 percent less salt. Once the town trucks are upgraded with more efficient spreaders, the town will increase its goal to 30 percent, Fowler said.

"The town is going to need to upgrade its spreaders to meet guidelines in its salt management plan," he said.

The town regularly upgrades equipment on the 15 town trucks used for plowing, but this program will speed up the process to outfit the trucks with the best equipment, Fowler said.

That doesn't mean salt is being spread carelessly now.

Just a few years ago, the town was paying $15 to $20 per ton of salt. This year, it cost $54 per ton, Fowler said.

The town uses an average of about 3,800 tons per year, which costs more than $200,000 per year. A reduction of 30 percent in salt use would translate into a $60,000-per-year savings.

"Above and beyond the environmental benefits, we like the cost savings," Fowler said.

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