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Road Salt “Action Planning” Workshop for Municipalities

On September 28, AdkAction hosted towns and municipalities located throughout the New York Lake Champlain Basin in an Action Planning Workshop for improved winter road maintenance and road salt reduction. Representatives from Washington County, Plattsburgh, Peru, Saranac, Hague, Chesterfield and Ausable attended the session to learn from Wit Advisors Sustainable Winter Management expert, Phill Sexton, who worked with participants to create action plans to implement improved winter road maintenance practices throughout their towns and villages. Participants also heard about successful practices currently used in municipalities across the region. 

The workshop was part of AdkAction’s Clean Water, Safe Roads Partnership (CWSR). A goal of the partnership is to establish a regional network of highway department staff that can work together to improve winter maintenance practices, in an effort to reduce the environmental and economic impacts of these activities. Municipalities will soon receive water quality data from the Adirondack Watershed Institute to help identify key target areas on which to focus. The intention of this first session was for each participant to leave with an attainable plan to implement for winter road maintenance, starting with achievable goals for this year with opportunities to grow in the future. 

At the workshop, Phill Sexton led the group in defining the major steps in creating an action plan for snow and ice maintenance–measure, calibrate, prevent, analyze, improve, and optimize. Participants discussed the importance of measuring the amount of road salt and other materials currently used as a baseline for tracking progress in the future. By accurately recording how much municipalities are using now, they can learn from each winter weather event, what processes they use, and what changes to make going forward. The group discussed the critical importance of calibrating the equipment they use to spread road salt, salt/sand mixtures, and other materials so that the amount of salt spread on roadways is accurate to the intended amount they are spreading. Municipalities that do not calibrate equipment regularly might think they are spreading 400 lbs per lane mile of salt, while spreading twice that amount in actuality. 

AdkAction’s Clean Water Safe Roads Partnership looks forward to continuing these conversations to help highway departments adopt simple actions like calibration and to provide opportunities to exchange knowledge about road salt reduction techniques, ultimately saving municipalities money and materials while helping to protect our environment and infrastructure.. 

 Thank you to everyone who attended the workshop, we are thrilled to be working with such a motivated group of highway supervisors and municipal leaders.

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