Brine catching on as North Country DPW head named to help protect Adirondacks

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warren county road salt brine machine

Warren County employees operate one of two brine machines purchased by the county to use on roads this winter. Brine repels ice from forming on roads, rather than eating away at it after it has formed, in 2020 This week, the brine is out again, but with a few fewer hands to spare. (Photo: Warren County)

WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In recent years, Warren County’s Department of Public Works has changed tactics when it comes to winter. Instead of using traditional grains of rock salt on county roads, DPW vehicles have been deploying a new solution that stops ice from ever forming. The person at the head of that work is now set to help expand the reach of new, better methods.

Late last week, Warren County DPW Superintendent Kevin Hajos was named to join the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force, an organization working to reduce the use of road salt when keeping roads free of ice and snow in the winter. Hajos was one of a list of names added to the statewide task force by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.

“I am honored to have been chosen to sit on this task force as we work to ensure protection of the lakes and waterways that are such an important part of our lives and economy here in Warren County and the rest of the Adirondacks,” Hajos said.

Kevin Hajos, Warren County Public Works Department Superintendent

Hajos’s crew uses brine, a mixture of salt and water that uses considerably less salt than the application of road salt would. The brine is applied to roads before snow and freezing start. That way, salt soaked into pavement stops slippery ice from forming, as opposed to rock salt being used to break ice up after it has already formed.

Hajos’ crew operated from two brine stations. One is mobile, and travels across much of the roughly 100 miles of road the county is responsible for. More is covered by vehicles departing from a stationary brine site in Warrensburg. The switch to brine saves Warren County an estimated $10,000 annually, due to the reduced amount of salt used.

Hajos was nominated to the state task force by New York State Senator Dan Stec, of Queensbury. The supervisor was one of 10 people named to the task force, which will be presided over by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation. The task force will create a 3-year pilot plan for road salt reduction, to be presented in summer 2024.

While the salt savings and road safety are important, there are environmental factors that play a huge role in reducing salt use – particularly in the Adirondack Park. The Lake George Association has been advocating for the reduction of road salt for years through its Lake George Salt Reduction Initiative, pushing data on how road salt that gets into groundwater can contaminate drinking water, and make it harder for fish and other wildlife to live.

The Council, previously made up of a group of the same name and The FUND for Lake George, also measures salt rates at different points around Lake George, using equipment placed on roadside cameras and in plow truck cabs. The data extracted from that equipment then goes to furthering the push to take better care of roads, and of the environment in turn.

“Protecting our environment is a high priority to my administration and appointments to this task force are long overdue,” said Gov. Hochul in a statement announcing the full list of appointees to the task force. “I have no doubt that this group of individuals will work tirelessly to protect our state from the adverse effects of road salt. We look forward to seeing this group finally convene and make progress in preventing further pollution to our waterways and our environment.”

Other new appointees to the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force include Gov. Hochul’s candidates, including Megan Phillips, Dr. Daniel Kelting, Joe Martens and Dr. Kristine Stepenuck; Senate candidates, including Philip Sexton and Robert J. Kafin; Speaker candidates, Brittany Christenson and Gerald Delaney; and Minority Assembly Leader candidate Tracy J. Eldridge.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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