Reducing Road Salt: A Year-Round Project

In spite of the current balmy summer weather in the Adirondacks, there is continuing work on our Road salt project. In a late spring meeting, the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) presented plans for an enhanced pilot study on the stretch of Rt 86 in Lake Placid and Wilmington first considered last year which will be conducted by the federal US Geological Survey (USGS).  Additional monitoring wells will be drilled, and the study will include analysis of samples for a number of deicing chemicals associated with road salt applications. AdkAction looks forward to continuing involvement in this study through its participation in the Road Salt Working Group established by NYS, and also to encourage the broadening of such studies to include areas representative of the diverse communities within the Adirondacks.

At the July 24th meeting of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), road salt was voted the top current issue by stakeholders across the Adirondacks. AdkAction Executive Director Brittany Christenson and Board Chairman Tom Boothe participated in the Road Salt working group and hand the honor of reporting out to the rest of the forum on the recommendations that will be included in the Blueprint for the Blueline and presented to lawmakers in Albany:

  1. Create a blue-ribbon panel of appointees from DEC, DOH (Dept of Health), DOT, Attorney General’s Office, Governor’s office, and scientific experts who will be responsible for advising the state on changes to winter road maintenance policy that will result in long-term, measurable reductions in the chloride loading in Adirondack ground and surface waters.
  2. Provide recourse for homeowners impacted by road salt contamination of private wells through the Department of Health, not DOT, and increase protections for private well owners in general so that they receive protections more similar to individuals on town water.
  3. Create a broad public awareness campaign so that winter driving expectations are kept to a reasonable level to balance driver safety and environmental impacts of road sale.

AdkAction’s work with the CGA on road salt use is also expected to benefit the ongoing effort to have all of the towns in the Adirondacks sign AdkAction’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which identifies the issues associated with winter road salt applications, as well as steps that may be taken to help reduce related impacts. To date, approximately 25% of the communities in the Adirondack Park have signed the MOU.
Communities that signed the MOU will be honored on October 3, 2019, the 5th annual Adirondack Champlain Regional Road Salt Conference will be held at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid and co-hosted by AdkAction. The conference is planned to increase outreach to all communities and agencies responsible for road salt applications in the Adirondack Park. Speakers and agenda to follow.

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