Bill Memo: Reducing Road Salt in the Adirondacks
This bill establishes an Adirondack road salt reduction task force, pilot plan and test program.
This legislation creates an Adirondack road salt reduction task force to produce a report on the impacts road salt contamination of water supplies and recommendations for better road management practices that reduce the use of salt. Using this report, the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation will conduct a three-year pilot program to test best management practices and road salt reduction targets on state-owned roadways within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park.
Approximately 160,000 metric tons of road salt (sodium chloride) is applied annually to roads in the Adirondack Park, according to the Adirondack Watershed Institute. Most of that salt (110,000 tons) is applied to state roads and highways, even though they comprise only a quarter of the Adirondack’s total roadways. Road salt runoff can enter our waterways and leach into groundwater, and therefore also poses a risk to our drinking water sources. Road salt is not all washed away; it can also accumulate in the environment for years, negatively impacting soils, wildlife and aquatic life.
In one study, the Adirondack Watershed Institute found that two-thirds of drinking water wells tested downslope of state roads in the Adirondacks exceeded the federal health limits for sodium and one-third exceeded the state recommended limit for chloride. In addition to the direct risks to human health, chloride can corrode metals, which can exacerbate existing drinking water issues by damaging household plumbing and appliances and is a concern considering the estimated 360,000 lead service lines that still run through many parts of New York State.
While this bill seeks to address salt contamination at a regional scale, we would like to see strategic recommendations regarding road salt reduction statewide to ensure all New Yorkers are protected from this contaminant in our waterways and drinking water sources.
Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Beneficial
Memo #: 37