With Nowhere Left for Snow, DEP OKs Dumping Into Water

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Friday, Feb 4, 2011  |  Updated 2:39 PM EDT
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With Nowhere Left for Snow, DEP OKs Dumping Into Water

Dick Johnson

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There is so much snow that some cities and towns have run out of places to put it. Dumping snow in rivers and other bodies was halted, but it is allowed in emergency situations and Connecticut is going to allow it.

But there are requirements and restrictions.

Cities and towns first must have exhausted all options for upland storage or other disposal methods.

If so, and with approval of the DEP commissioner, cities and towns will be able to dump snow into salt water and certain waterways.

“The preferred practice has been – and remains – 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,” DEP Commissioner Amey 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.”

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is not in favor of opening up waterways to snow and ice.

“Taking the massive buildup of snow we currently have and dumping it in our waterways is the equivalent of dumping municipal garbage into our rivers and Long Island Sound — it should remain illegal in all but the most extreme and controlled circumstances,” Roger Reynolds, senior attorney for CFE, said. “The snow that is currently on the ground is not just water — it contains garbage, motor oil and feces from animals, among many other toxic and bacterial pollutants.”

The organization wants the DEP to ensure that towns and cities dispose of snow in waterways only when there are true public safety threats and only when it has been objectively documented that all other options, such as storing snow in parks or ball fields or melting it with equipment, have been thoroughly and genuinely exhausted.   

Homeowners cannot cart snow down to the shore or the Connecticut River.

Only cities, town and other government entities will be able to dump into water.

The snow and ice must not be visibly contaminated with material other than salt and sand from road clearing activities.

Governmental entities must notify the Department by email prior to disposing of snow and ice in waterways or.

You can find DEP’s revised BMPs for snow removal on the DEP Web site.

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