Posts Tagged ‘Road Salt’

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Unfinished business

boat stewards

Sometimes in the environmental protection field there’s a celebration of achievements before they’re fully realized. Case in point: We recently reported that a state road salt task force that was celebrated as a potential win for Adirondack water quality was not actually a done deal, as the governor has yet to appoint its members.

When the governor announced his resignation, another such premature victory came to light: The state’s new boat inspection law to prevent movement of invasive species in the park’s waters still awaits a governor’s signature. We reported on that law’s passage months ago, but technically, it’s not reality yet.

Environmental groups are hopeful that incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul will finish the job. The Adirondack Council’s Willie Janeway said this about it in a news release: “Many of the state’s functions inside the Adirondack Park have ground to a halt as the executive branch of government succumbed to administrative paralysis while the current Governor attempted to defend his actions. As Kathy Hochul becomes governor, the entire state will have an opportunity to heal and make progress again.”

It’s important work, as is the road salt study, septic and sewage management and proposed new surveys of park lakes’ changing ecology. We’ll see how the new governor approaches these problems.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in the Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Photo courtesy of Adirondack Watershed Institute


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Award-winning water reporting

road salt truck

One of the Adirondack Explorer’s priorities over the last couple of years has been to thoroughly explain the park’s hidden water quality issues, including the problems associated with New York State’s heavy use of road salt in winter. So it was a nice affirmation recently when the Society of Environmental Journalists honored that work, and reporter Ry Rivard, with an honorable mention.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Regulating road salt like acid rain

Several decades ago, acid rain in the Adirondacks helped direct the nation’s attention to new kinds of air pollution.

Despite the local environmental protections here, acids were being carried from coal-fired power plants elsewhere in the country by the atmosphere and falling into Adirondack lakes and streams, killing off fish. The regulatory boundary protecting the park’s forests and wetlands from development and logging weren’t going to stop that.

A national problem needed a national solution. So, in 1990, Congress updated the Clean Air Act to crack down on polluters.

A recent paper, authored by researchers at the University of Maryland, argues that salt pollution, including pollution from road salt, may be so ubiquitous that it now needs such a national solution. “Ultimately,” the paper says, “there may be a need for regulations similar to the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which were enacted to address pollution from acid rain.”

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Money for Lake Champlain water quality projects

lake champlain bridgeRecently, I wrote about the Adirondack Council asking the state to fund a wide-ranging study of water quality across the Adirondacks. (Speaking of the Council, it just hired someone away from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to be its new vice president for conservation.)

I’ve been thinking about how much the public conversation is influenced by money — not just advertising and p.r., but money or lack of money for research.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

AdkAction awarded funding for road salt reduction program

AdkAction was recently awarded $50,000 from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. The grant is for a newly formed “Clean Water, Safe Roads” partnership, which will work to reduce salt pollution along the 125-mile-long lake between New York and Vermont. Together with partners from Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute and Lake Champlain Sea Grant, the project partners intend to enact an in-depth and personalized outreach and education program to municipal highway departments in the Lake Champlain Basin Area.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Passing the salt

After a $3 billion state bond to fund climate change projects fell apart because of the pandemic economy, a lot of environmental policy attention up here turned to a bill that would study the damage caused in the Adirondacks by road salt.

We’ve reported this year on that damage. Salt threatens human health and property values.

The road salt bill was introduced last winter in Saranac Lake.

Its Senate sponsor, Sen. Betty Little, a North Country Republican, made sure it moved by working with Sen. Tim Kennedy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s transportation committee.  He put his name atop the bill in Little’s place and gave the bill a better chance of passing. It cleared the Senate and state Assembly this summer.

Then, crickets.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Gov. Cuomo signs road salt bill, paving way for salt reduction

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won praise from Adirondack and statewide conservation organizations today when he signed into law the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act – a bipartisan bill that would help reduce road salt pollution and protect drinking water in the Adirondack Park.

Late Wednesday night, the governor signed a law aimed at reining in the 300 million pounds of salt dumped each year in the Adirondack Park to clear roads for fast-moving vehicles.

Local lawmakers and environmental groups have been pushing the idea since last year. The law creates a task force and directs state transportation, public health and environmental officials all to help with a three-year study that will test new ways to manage roads in the winter.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Groups urge Gov. to sign road salt reduction bill

A coalition of Adirondack conservationists is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law a bi-partisan bill that would help reduce road salt pollution and protect drinking water in the Adirondack Park.

The legislation creates an Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force and Pilot Program. If approved by the Governor, the new law would establish a salt-reduction pilot program from October 2021 through 2024 to test alternative measures already shown to work better and cost less than current winter road maintenance practices.  Highway safety would remain the top priority.

New York State has applied millions of tons of road salt to the park’s highways since it began using salt in 1980.

The Adirondack Park contains more than 11,000 lakes and ponds, and more than 30,000 miles of rivers, brook and streams.  It is the source of most of the state’s major rivers.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

A salty subject

This past Tuesday, the Explorer hosted our first public event of the COVID era — a Zoom panel discussion with Dan Kelting, the head of the Adirondack Watershed Institute of Paul Smith’s College.

We focused on something Kelting has been studying for a decade and I’ve been reporting on all year: road salt and what it does to drinking water supplies in the Adirondacks.

Kelting dived into the issue years ago, first to roundup what was known about road salt pollution elsewhere and then to find out what it was doing to the Adirondacks. In sum, too much salt running off roads ends up in waterways. There, it harms humans by messing with heart and kidney function, destroys plumbing and upends ecosystems.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Join a conversation about road salt, pollution

Join Explorer reporter Ry Rivard and Dan Kelting, head of the Adirondack Watershed Institute of Paul Smith’s College, to talk about one of the major sources of water pollution in our region: the road salt showing up in water supplies across the Adirondacks. Ry Rivard has been reporting on this issue for the Explorer. Dan Kelting has been studying road salt for years and tested hundreds of private wells. The event will take place online starting at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The conversation between Ry and Dan will last about 30 minutes, followed by your questions. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Monday, August 17, 2020

Road salt and lawsuits

When Americans try to work something out but fail, we head to court.

But that option isn’t available for many long-suffering New Yorkers with water made undrinkable by road salt.

Road salt has been a known threat to the environment and human health for decades. Yet, the state of New York, which applies about as much per mile of roadway as any other state, depending on the year, has done little to prevent, clean up or truly quantify much of the problem.

That has stood out to me in several months of reporting on how road salt is fouling up water in and around the Adirondacks. The scale of the problem is so uncertain that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers may have salty water without even knowing it.

But when they do find out, they have a heck of a time trying to make things right.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Adirondack groups cheer passing of road salt reduction bill

road salt The NYS Senate granted final approval Thursday to a bi-partisan bill that would help reduce road salt pollution and protect drinking water in the Adirondack Park.

The legislation creates an Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force and Pilot Program. If approved by the Governor, the new law would establish a salt-reduction pilot program from October 2021 through 2024 to test alternative measures already shown to work better and cost less than current winter road maintenance practices.  Highway safety would remain the top priority.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Tracking the salt

snow plow courtesy DOTOver the past several months, as we’ve investigated road salt pollution in homeowners’ water, we’ve been keeping an eye out for lab tests that show salt getting into town and village water supplies.

It stood to reason that since road salt can run off roads into private wells, it could also get into water supplies used by larger public drinking water systems.

But tracking the spread of salt is complicated because of uneven testing by public water systems across upstate New York. The state’s Department of Health decides which contaminants public water suppliers have to test for each year.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Brine: The Salty Flavor of Road Safety

Flavored ice treats such as the popsicle and its plastic-sheathed cousin the freeze-pop have been around since the 1920s, but until recently the selections have been less than bold; mainly fruits, with maybe a watermelon ice-pop here and there.

But Canada and the northern U.S. have some daring thinkers who were tired of conventional frozen fare. As a result of their innovations, a number of snowy cities now offer cheese-flavored ice, as well as pickle and beet. No lie. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Warren County, Hague Certified for Sustainable Winter Management

Fund Hague TeamWarren County and the Town of Hague have earned the Sustainable Winter Management (SWiM) Program certification for reducing the use of road salt — and its runoff into Lake George and other waterways — while maintaining safe driving conditions.

The SWiM certification was developed and is administered by winter management consulting firm WIT Advisers, LLC, of Delanson, NY. In 2018, the Town of Lake George became the first municipality in North America to earn the certification. » Continue Reading.