This winter’s early and heavy snows have been a mixed blessing for Vermont. For skiers and winter out door enthusiasts, it’s been an opportunity to get out and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer in the winter. For those who had to cope with treacherous roads and no power for too many dark days , blessing is a not a term that would come to mind. It’s also not a term that comes to mind for those who work hard to keep our roads and walkways passible during the winter.
Vermont recently updated the state’s Water Quality Standards to include chloride as a pollutant of concern (http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/mapp/docs/mapp_wqc_chloride.pdf ) . The main reason for taking such a step is the increasing evidence in northern climates that the application of de-icing salts during the winter months is reducing the quality of our surface and ground waters. Over the next months, the DEC will be developing guidance and assistance for municipalities and individuals to prudently use deicing products for the health and safety of people and our waters.
Other states have already started down this road and they are finding that their efforts do make a difference. This recent article from Minnesota tells about their efforts and the success that has followed – http://www.startribune.com/local/286308151.html?page=all&prepage=2&c=y#continue .
So as you take care of your driveways and walkways this winter, please think about your lakes and use less salt. It will make a difference.
Angela, VT DEC