Adirondack environmental groups and local government leaders don’t always agree, but both want the state Department of Transportation to reduce the amount of road salt it dumps on roads in winter.
In September, green groups pressed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign an Adirondack road salt reduction bill. Now about 30 local government leaders are doing the same, according to a press release from AdkAction, a multi-purpose advocacy group based in Saranac Lake.
“We have a track-side seat at a slow-moving train wreck,” Gerald Delaney Sr., executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and a Saranac town councilman, said in the release. “The decades-old practice of using salt is coming home to roost. Aquifers are contaminated by salt beyond use. The number of wells impacted are growing every year. Now is not the time for blame; we all benefited from clear roads. I call on the Gov. Coumo to do what he does best: Manage a crisis with science and good decision-making skills. Show the rest of the country New York is a leader. This will be a crisis if we don’t act.”
It was an easy sell for state lawmakers. The Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act (S.8663a, A.8767a) passed the Assembly unanimously, 141-0, on July 20 and passed the Senate 59-1 two days later. Out of 201 legislators, only Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island, voted no. But the bill still needs the governor’s signature to become law.
If approved, it would establish a task force whose recommendations would be incorporated into an Adirondack Park-wide pilot program to reduce salt use, while maintaining safe roads.
The bill was named for Randy Preston, a former Wilmington town supervisor who rallied local government support for protecting the park’s waters from road salt until his death from brain cancer last year.
Roy Holzer, the current Wilmington supervisor, was among the first local government leaders to sign on to urge Cuomo to sign the bill into law.
“It is often the people with limited resources who are having their wells contaminated with road salt, and they struggle to afford to drill a new well and replace all of their pipes and appliances,” Holzer said in the AdkAction release. “Local efforts can only go so far; we need state leadership on this issue.”
Longtime Lake George Mayor Robert Blais added, “We have been working for years to safeguard Lake George from salt contamination and we are starting to see some very promising results in terms of salt reduction and also substantial cost savings. I encourage the governor to take what we have learned and apply it across the park to help save all of the other pristine Adirondack lakes and, of course, to protect drinking water.”
“We all recognize the vital importance of safe drinking water and of protecting our streams, lakes and ponds from the pollution introduced by the excess use of salt on our roads,” said Ronald Moore, chairman of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, Adirondack native and former North Hudson town supervisor.