Task force proposed to study road salt environmental impact

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SARANAC, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New legislation was introduced by a local lawmaker on Monday to create a task force to study the impact of road salt in the Adirondacks. State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) announced the legislation at a press conference at the Saranac Village offices.

The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force would gather and summarize information currently available and recommend winter road maintenance practices to best remediate salt contamination according to the Adirondack Council. The task force would work with the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) over a period of three years, finding ways to reduce the amount of salt used during winter.

“As we’re seeing in Lake George and other communities, technology is helping highway departments continue to do the very important work of keeping our roads safe during winter travel but in a manner that is more protective of the environment,” said Senator Little. “I think there will be a real benefit of looking at this issue parkwide and developing a strategy that ensures ‘best practices’ are used to the greatest extent possible. When you think of the health of our lakes, rivers and streams and private wells, prevention would certainly seem to be worth the effort.”

“During the winter months, and especially in the North Country, road maintenance is critical so drivers can safely get where they need to go,” Assemblyman Jones said. “However, the pollution from years of excessive salt use has allowed harmful and toxic substances to wreak havoc on the environment and contaminate local wells, putting our families’ health at risk.”

The task force would conclude its research and submit recommendations by Sept. 1, 2021. They would serve as a guide for the state departments to reduce the sodium and chloride levels in surface and groundwater.

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