EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The weather outside is not-quite frightful, but as winter approaches, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is reminding businesses and community groups, as well as state and local government agencies, to begin thinking about where they’re going to put the piles of snow once the plows come out.
Since snow collected from roads, parking lots, bridges and sidewalks may contain harmful contaminants ─ such as road salt, sand, and litter ─ the DEM has specific guidelines to help organizations determine the best locations for snow disposal and how to prepare it ahead of time:
- Locate snow collection sites near or on permeable (porous) surfaces in upland areas, away from water resources and wells. This will allow snow melt to filter into the soil, leaving behind sand and debris. The latter should be removed as soon as possible but no later than springtime.
- Prepare and maintain snow collection sites to maximize their effectiveness, such as installing a silt fence or sediment barriers on the down-sloping side of the site, maintaining a vegetative buffer between the site and adjacent water bodies and clearing away debris before and after using the area for snow disposal.
- Under normal winter conditions, store and dispose of snow only in upland areas and not in or near waterbodies or wetlands. DEM’s Snow Disposal Policy includes guidance on emergency disposal of snow under extraordinary circumstances when upland snow storage options are exhausted.
The goal, the DEM said, is to minimize impacts on public health and also the environment.