The town of Lake George became the first municipality in North America to earn the Sustainable Winter Management (SWiMTM) program certification for employing best practices in maintaining safe winter driving conditions while reducing the use of road salt.
The FUND for Lake George has identified road salt runoff as one of the greatest threats to the water quality of Lake George and other area waterways, and is coordinating a multi-year salt-reduction effort among the municipalities in the Lake George basin with a goal of reducing road salt usage by 50 percent by 2020.
FUND officials said the town of Lake George has been the leader among those municipalities in implementing best practices, reducing its road salt usage by more than 30 percent over the past two years and earning it the SWiMTM certification, which is administered by winter management consulting firm WIT Advisers LLC of Delanson.
The certification was announced on Oct. 3 at the FUND for Lake George’s fourth annual Salt Summit, which drew more than 100 public officials, highway superintendents, property managers, business owners and scientists to the Fort William Henry Conference Center in Lake George to learn about the impacts of road salt on area waters and the availability of new methods and equipment to reduce its use.
Among its best practices, the town applies a pre-coating of brine on town roads in advance of winter storms to minimize ice buildup; uses special “live edge” plows to remove more snow, closer to the road surface; and equips its plow trucks with technology that calibrates and tracks road salt application.
“With outstanding leadership from the supervisor and Town Board, and the day-to-day commitment of the Highway Department team, the town of Lake George is setting the standard for sustainable winter management,” said Eric Siy, executive director of The FUND for Lake George. “Their efforts are protecting the lake while keeping drivers safe and saving taxpayer dollars.”
Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said the town “is extremely proud to protect our environment and economy by minimizing our use of road salt on town roads. Becoming the first SWiMTM-certified municipality is a testament to their good work.”
“The town’s 30-plus percent reduction in road salt use will have a meaningful impact on the water quality of Lake George over the long term, and they’re only getting better,” said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky. “The Highway Department crew has embraced a totally new approach to winter road management and the results are real.”