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Clean Water, Safe Roads Partnership Launched

New York communities within the Lake Champlain Basin are invited to join a new Clean Water, Safe Roads Partnership to reduce road salt use by adopting improved winter road maintenance techniques. The Clean Water, Safe Roads Partnership will address the threat to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, water quality, and the safety of drinking water caused by the excessive use of road salt, while maintaining safe winter roads. The partnership is funded by a $50,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New England Interstate Pollution Control Commission and is part of AdkAction’s decade-long effort to reduce road salt use in the region. 

This project builds on AdkAction’s Pledge to Reduce Road Salt, developed in 2017 for municipal partners, which demonstrates a community’s commitment to work  to reduce the levels of road salt application. The Partnership will implement a comprehensive, personalized outreach and education program for communities which have already signed on to the Pledge to Reduce Road Salt, and add additional municipalities. 

The goal of the Partnership is to provide municipal highway workers with the resources, training, and contacts needed to accelerate salt reduction practices. By joining in this project, communities will be given targeted water quality reports and maps so they can plan to direct salt application procedures with an awareness of potential water contamination impacts. A survey of municipal highway department winter road maintenance practices conducted by the Lake Champlain Sea Grant will provide an overview of current routines in the region. In addition, highway department representatives will work with Phill Sexton, a winter road maintenance professional with regional experience directing successful road salt reduction efforts, to assess their current practices. Small groups of highway representatives will work together on the project to learn ways to reduce road salt use, maintain safe roads, and save money. Utilizing the water quality data, current assessments, and evidence from new applied practices , municipalities will be guided in the development of a plan to optimize existing approaches and incorporate new methods and technologies.

It is expected that these well-developed winter road maintenance plans, based on science and the knowledge gained through the experiences and innovations developed while working towards the reduced use of road salt, will prepare municipalities and their highway departments to support funding requests for the implementation of their plans.

Recent NYS legislation has created a Road Salt Reduction Task Force and pilot program to address road salt pollution in the region. With the support of this grant funding, AdkAction will be providing training and resources for municipalities to help them develop the improved winter road maintenance practices expected to result from the work of the Task Force. By working together in this Partnership, communities can develop a more unified regional strategy to reverse the trend of rising road salt pollution affecting our waters. 

The Lake Champlain Basin Program provides support to restore and protect Lake Champlain and its surrounding watershed. Through ongoing education and outreach made possible by its funding, community leaders will stay informed about best practices for road salt reduction and be supported in the implementation of community action plans, resulting in a cleaner and healthier freshwater ecosystem for New York, Vermont, and Quebec communities in the Champlain Basin.

AdkAction expects that these measures included in the Clean Water, Safe Roads Partnership will advance efforts to reduce road salt use across the region. It encourages eligible communities to join their neighboring towns and villages and take advantage of the valuable opportunities provided in this Partnership by contacting AdkAction at [email protected]

This project has been funded by an agreement awarded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

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