DEEP: DEP Provides Flexibility on Disposal of Plowed Snow Given Extraordinary Snow Accumulation

February 4, 2011
 
DEP Provides Flexibility on Disposal of Plowed Snow Given Extraordinary Snow Accumulation

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that due to the extraordinary snowfall this winter, it is providing cities and towns with some flexibility to dispose of snow in salt water and certain waterways if all options for upland storage or other disposal methods have been exhausted.

DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, "The DEP recognizes that the amount of snow accumulating this winter is creating unique issues for cities and towns. When it comes to disposing of all this snow, we must strike the right balance between environmental protection and public safety."

"The preferred practice has been Ė and remains Ė for plowed snow to be stockpiled at upland locations, such as parks and playing fields, due to the presence of contaminants in the snow that can adversely impact water quality and aquatic life," Marrella said. "DEP has, however, adjusted its guidance on this issue to say that snow can be disposed in salt water and certain waterways when upland locations are no longer available and other options, such as snow melting, are not practical."

DEPís revised Best Management Practices (BMPs), which provide guidance on this issue, are consistent with EPA guidelines and those of neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey. This revised guidance takes effect only when authorized by the Commissioner of DEP, applies only to cities, town and other government entities, and applies only to snow and ice not visibly contaminated with material other than salt and sand from road clearing activities. Snow clearing and road maintenance activities conducted by most municipalities includes removal of snow accumulations from bridges, roads and parking areas for the purpose of providing more space for subsequent snow storms and for ease of travel and parking. DEPís BMPs have recommended disposing of this snow in upland areas and away from water bodies due to the presence of dirt, salt, litter, pet waste and other debris, which are routinely mixed in the accumulated snow. These types of contaminants can be cleaned after snow melts at inland storage areas but has an adverse effect when placed in water bodies and waterways.

Marrella said, "The DEP will assess the experience and impacts of any snow disposal in water this winter so we can make sound and scientific decisions about best practices in the future. As a result, it is critical for municipalities to notify us either before or as soon as possible after snow has been disposed of into a water body so that we can later assess the environmental impact on specific water bodies.

DEPís revised BMPs include the following terms and conditions:

  • Upland storage and disposal of snow (i.e., athletic fields, parks and other flat, open-field sites) and other snow management methods (i.e., snow melting equipment) must be the first alternatives explored and exhausted. Environmentally sensitive areas must be avoided;
  • This guidance applies only to snow and ice which is not visibly contaminated with material other than salt and sand from road clearing activities;
  • For coastal communities, preference should be given to snow disposal in salt water where available;
  • Disposal in rivers or streams must be limited to those water bodies that have adequate flow and mixing and are not prone to ice jams;
  • The disposal must occur only in open water in areas that will not interfere with navigation;
  • Disposal must be conducted in a manner so as to prevent ice dam formation or damage to bridges, docks, or other structures;
  • Disposal in ponds and lakes is discouraged;
  • There shall be no disposal in coastal or freshwater wetlands, eelgrass beds, vegetated shallows, vernal pools, shellfish beds mudflats, public water supply reservoirs and their tributaries, or others areas designated as being environmentally sensitive;
  • The activity must comply with local laws and requirements;
  • Precautions must be taken to avoid shoreline or stream bank damage or erosion from truck/equipment activity; and
  • Governmental entities must notify the Department by email (address email to kevin.sowa@ct.gov) prior to disposing of snow and ice in waterways or, if advance notification is not possible, then the Department must be contacted as soon as possible after snow disposal has begun.

DEPís revised BMPs for snow removal can be found on the DEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/snowdisposal.