Dilemmas
8:15 am
Fri February 4, 2011

No Good Place to Put the Snow

Shoveling driveways and raking roofs is hard work. Imagine adding the challenge of finding a place to put the snow that doesn’t hurt the environment. That’s what some Connecticut cities and towns are facing.   Snow is kind of like a sponge for anything that ends up on the streets: dirt, trash, animal waste, salt and other compounds that get rid of ice. That’s why the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t want cities to dump snow in fresh water or tidal wetlands. Ozzie Inglese of the D.E.P. “Those are very sensitive resources.  It’s usually spawning grounds and habitat areas for fish and amphibians.” The state’s guidelines call for municipalities to put snow in upland areas away from wetlands or stream banks. Municipalities don’t need an official exemption or waiver if they can’t follow D.E.P. guidelines, but they do take them seriously. Inglese suggests they put it in flat open areas, like athletic fields, but he says the state is getting calls from some cities that are running out of room. “New Haven is really struggling with available space and so they have contacted us about other options. They have asked whether they could dispose of their accumulated snow in the New Haven harbor area.” Inglese says the DEP recognizes the need to balance clearing the streets for first responders—with environmental protection. He says in cases like New Haven the agency wants to make sure all other options have been exhausted and that snow is not dumped into waterways that are already jammed up with ice and that stream banks aren’t eroded by trucks

Cities are also struggling with how to pay for snow removal. The Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is meeting with FEMA on Friday about federal funding.