Some Connecticut cities and towns have been running out of places to put the plowed snow they removed from local streets. Ordinarily they’re barred from disposing of it in waterways because of environmental regulations.
However, the Department of Environmental Protection says because the piled snow blocking the view at intersections and narrowing the travel portion of the roadway has become a safety concern, the department is offering communities some flexibility when it comes to the rule.
In a change that applies only to cities and towns and other governmental entities– not to commercial operations, the DEP says if other disposal options have been exhausted, some of the snow may be pushed into some of the state’s waterways.
Ordinarily, the plan is for the plowed snow to be piled up in parks or athletic fields, where the road salt, sand and other contaminants can filter through the soil as the snow melts.
In this case, the department issued the following guidelines:
· 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.