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Saturday, October 26, 2013

“Winter is coming”

DEM wants prep to start now

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is reminding government agencies, municipalities and private businesses to take some time this fall – before the ground is frozen and the first snowflakes appear – to select and prepare potential snow disposal sites.

Finding a place to dispose of collected snow poses a challenge to government agencies and businesses as they clear roads, parking lots, bridges and sidewalks. 

However, collected snow that is contaminated with road salt, sand, litter and automotive pollutants can pose threats to the environment and public health. 

DEM's Office of Water Resources has developed guidelines to assist state and municipal government agencies and private businesses select, prepare and maintain appropriate disposal sites for snow and ice which is not visibly contaminated with material other than salt and sand from road clearance.

There are several steps that can be taken to minimize the impacts of snow disposal. The key to selecting effective snow disposal sites is to locate them adjacent to or on pervious surfaces in upland areas, away from water resources and wells. 

At these locations, the snow melt water can filter into the soil, leaving behind sand and debris which should be removed as soon as possible but no later than springtime. In addition to carefully selecting disposal sites before the winter begins, it is important to prepare and maintain these sites to maximize their effectiveness. 

Steps can include installation of a silt fence or barrier on the down-gradient side of the snow disposal site; maintenance of a vegetative buffer between the site and adjacent water bodies; and clearing debris from the site prior to and after using the area for snow disposal.

Additional information on site selection procedures, site preparation and maintenance, and emergency snow disposal is provided in the DEM's Snow Disposal Policy, which is available on DEM's website at by clicking on "Snow Disposal Policy" under "Timely Topics" on the right side of the homepage. For questions about the guidelines, contact Brian Lafaille in DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 ext. 7731 or via email at