Saturday, January 13, 2024

Let’s talk salt

State plow truck

Join Us!

The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force in September released its long-awaited recommendations to rein in the region’s road salt use, but a central question remains. What next?

The Adirondack Explorer will be hosting a discussion on Feb. 15 at the Wild Center beginning at 10 a.m. to dive into that question and many others with a panel of government leaders, task force members and independent experts.

We hope you will join us to learn more about the report and the path forward. The Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation have scheduled officials to join and talk about how their agencies are working to implement the report’s proposals.

We will also hear from scientists, community advocates and people who work to keep winter roads passable.

Here are the panelists (subject to change):

  • A.J. Smith — DEC division of water
  • Rob Fitch — DOT director of transportation maintenance
  • Sawyer Bailey — Executive Director of AdkAction
  • Tracy Eldridge — task force member, Hamilton County superintendent of public works
  • Chris Navitsky — task force member, Lake George waterkeeper
  • Rob Vopleus — salt use adviser, former Town of Lake George operator
  • Brendan Wiltse — senior research scientist at the Adirondack Watershed Institute


I’m looking forward to continuing an important conversation about how to protect the water we hold dear while maintaining the roads we want clear. Please let me know what questions I should be asking and what topics you want to hear more about.

Free and you can register now to attend!

Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul visits the Adirondacks. Explorer file photo.

Water news from the State of the State:

Gov. Kathy Hochul today outlined an ambitious policy agenda in her State of the State, touching on a handful of important water issues. Here’s a look at some of the things that stood out to me.

  • A new grant program to fund dam repairs and removal of municipal and state-owned dams.
  • 40 new watershed studies focused on flood resilience;
  • Altering water infrastructure regulations to encourage climate change resiliency and minimizing emissions;
  • A “blue buffers” program to encourage voluntary buy-outs of properties in flood-prone areas;
  • An entire section on expanding access to swim lessons and swimming pools, including $60 million for local communities to deploy floating pools in natural bodies of water.

Adirondack leaders and advocates will also be happy to read about Hochul’s plans to lift from 25% to 50% the share of water infrastructure projects for small rural communities that can get grants funded by the Environmental Facilities Corporation.

“This change will support smaller communities, like those in the Adirondacks, which often struggle with accessing clean water grants and delivering affordable projects,” according to the policy book.

Check our website for a full story on how the Adirondack Park fits into the governor’s agenda from policy reporter Gwen Craig.


Olympic Center in Lake Placid/ice rink

More coming soon from a recent tour of the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Just look at that miraculous ice. Photo by Zachary Matson


Photo at top: A state plow performs winter maintenance on a state highway in Saranac Lake. Photo by Mike Lynch.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.


15 Responses

  1. Gary N. Lee says:

    I don’t see any less salt being used here in the Old Forge and Inlet area.

    • Boreas says:

      I live near the State Route 373 brine test area. Around Thanksgiving I could see the “stripes” of brine that were being laid down prior to freezing events. Now, I no longer see the stripes (but it has been very wet) and I am seeing rock salt at intersections, and occasionally some along the main stretch of road, which often can bounce out of the back of standard plows with salt in the bed. So I am not sure if brine is being used exclusively on this test road, but it has remained quite clear so far this winter.

  2. Rob says:

    Zach has anyone noticed a difference in how the state is applying salt this winter?? I notice that same activity by the plow trucks I see. Still dumping salt with every pass they make. And a lot of those passes I wonder “why are the plow trucks even out??” Just wondering if others are seeing the same thing??
    Some good things in her budget. Some stuff I feel need to go like 60 mill for swimming pools and swim lessons??
    Something I think will be big is her proposal to use $500 mill for incentives for people to build new homes and using state land for the development. Why are we using incentives to get people to build new homes and why is she going to let them be built on state land?? What type of state land.

  3. Smitty says:

    I followed two different plows on Rt 3 from Cranberry Lake to the county line near Tupper. It was raining on Wednesday afternoon. There was nothing to plow but they were spreading lots of salt, despite the rain. I can understand pretreating when you are expecting bad conditions to come but I would guess that most of this salt quickly dissolved in the rain and ran off.

  4. John Cashin says:

    Zach, While not in the Adirondack Park, Saratoga Lake has. Chloride load three times that of lake George at 66.2 mg/L. What can our lake association do to get the state DOT and the municipal highway departments in the lake watershed to reduce road salt usage?

  5. Sorod says:

    So you see spreaders is it salt or sand. I know a lot of towns have gone to sand.

  6. s a says:

    Please allow more people to participate in this and other forums by adding Zoom.

    Zoom is Free, and any smartphone will Live-Stream a small meeting.

    How many of the panelists would have chosen the Zoom option if it were available ?

  7. John Cashin says:

    I wholeheartedly support a zoom option for the Road Salt forum and would participate if it becomes available. Zoom also allows the meeting to be recorded for viewing after the event.

  8. Bill Keller says:

    Last week I saw two town trucks loaded with pure salt, no sand. You can have all the forums you want, unless you get the local town highway departments on board nothing will happen. Last year I spoke with a county highway worker who stated that pre-treating with the brine solution doesn’t work and uses more salt. Totally not factual. The politicians like the delay tactics with doing studies and forums. Salt reduction on roadways is nothing new, There are many previous road salt studies done throughout the country but politicians like to reinvent the wheel. New York state is one of the top salt producers in the nation and I’m certain that the lobbying effort is effecting any reasonable legislation to reduce the180,000 tons of road salt usage.

  9. Mike says:

    Not seeing any change in the Tupper Lake area. Like “Smitty” above, seeing State trucks grinding down the bare pavement and dumping salt while it’s 40 and raining. This happening when the weather forecast showed nothing below freezing for at least 12 hours later.

  10. Deb evans says:

    Is it going to be zoomed
    Weather might be an issue

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