Despite the discouragement of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, another state agency is moving snow into the Mohawk River.
DEC officials said snow shouldn’t go into any body of water because it is contaminated with salt, sand and petroleum. But the state Department of Transportation set up a snow-moving operation on the Western Gateway Bridge between Schenectady and Scotia recently to move mounds of snow into the river.
That’s the agency’s normal practice, said spokesman Bryan Viggiani.
It’s now getting more attention as state and federal agencies focus on water quality.
The Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council is starting a committee on water quality and members expressed concern about the snow going into the Mohawk.
“We’re always behind clean water and keeping pollutants out of the water,” said advisory council member and Niskayuna resident Bill Chapman. “They should not be dumping the snow into the river. It should be hauled off-site.”
Nearby, the village of Scotia hauls snow to Collins Park, but Viggiani said the state Department of Transportation has never asked Scotia for permission to put bridge snow there.
“We’ve never looked at that option,” he said. “The department continually reviews its policies to ensure that this practice is used only where there are no other practicable options.”
Chapman isn’t convinced. He noted that Collins Park is large and not very far from the bridge.
“That would seem like a sensible alternative,” he said.
In a recent statement regarding the handling of snow, DEC recommended municipalities and other agencies negotiate for permission to store snow on land. It said that would be the “best management practice.”
But the agency said rivers can be used as a last resort.
If other options are not possible, “snow may be disposed of in a nearby waterbody provided the snow is not heavily contaminated and is disposed only to surface waters with significant flow, which will dilute materials to prevent impacts to water supplies, and mixing to prevent ice jams from forming,” the agency said.
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