Lake George Mirror
The Fund for Lake George’s annual Salt Summit, to be held this year October 3, will take place in Lake Placid.
Thanks in part to the annual day-long conference, designed originally for the property maintenance contractors, highway superintendents and the public employees responsible for applying de-icing agents to roads, driveways and parking lots, the use of road salt has started to drop in the Lake George watershed. One source of pollution in Lake George will soon be significantly minimized. Local governments have already documented reductions in expenses.
It’s now time to export the Lake George model to communities throughout the Adirondack Park, said Chris Navitsky, the Lake George Waterkeeper.
That’s why this year’s conference is billed as the ‘Adirondack Champlain Regional Salt Summit,’ rather than a Lake George summit, as in the past, noted Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George. The conference will be held at the Golden Arrow resort.
Navitsky said approximately 150 government, business, scientific and not-forprofit representatives are expected to attend the summit, the fifth sponsored by The Fund for Lake George and the largest yet.
According to Navitsky, the first session, which starts at 8:35 am, will review the Lake George watershed’s experience in salt reduction. The session will feature a discussion between highway crews that have used innovative equipment and materials, which the municipalities hope will enable them to reduce their use of road salt by 50% within three years.
Live Edge plows, which can accommodate a road’s uneven, sometimes erratic surface, and brine, an anti-icing salt and water solution, along with more strategic applications, are among the things that have contributed to the towns’ lower use of salt. According to Chris Navitsky, the Town of Hague, which has used Live Edge plows on the road over Tongue Mountain, has reported that its highway department crews now make fewer trips and apply less salt while maintaining safe, bare roads.
By using Live Edge plows, Hague has reduced its use of salt by 30% over the course of two years. “That amounts to 500 tons of salt that were never used, and at $75 a ton, that’s a huge savings for a small town,” said Navitsky.
“The towns’ use of Live Edge Plows helps show others what it takes to reduce the use of road salt and the rewards of doing so,” said Navitsky.
Highway crews are persuasive spokesmen for environmentally sound de-icing practices, said Navitsky.
“We feel the message that we can reduce the use of salt without compromising road safety can be delivered more effectively by the people working on the ground than by experts or advocates,” said Navitsky. Navitsky said the highway crews’ accounts will be supported by data collected and analyzed by The Fund for Lake George.
For there to be an effective, salt reduction program, the use of salt alternatives and modern equipment such as advanced plows and road sensors must be integrated with the collection of precise data, said Eric Siy.
“On Lake George, we’ve outfitted snow plows with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment that is tracking the use of salt mile by mile, moment by moment,” said Siy.
Siy said the monitoring equipment – “little black boxes” – were part of a study by The Fund to learn how much salt is dispensed and where it is distributed. Roadside cameras were also installed to monitor road conditions, which helps crews refine their road-clearing methods.
According to Siy, the Lake George basin is the first watershed in America to be scientifically monitored for salt application.
“By gathering data, we can develop strategic plans based on historic application rates,” said Siy.
The highway crews’ discussion of best practices will be followed by an exhibition and demonstration of equipment outside the conference rooms.
In addition to Live Edge and two stage plows, the summit will display a Snow Lion, the Chinesemanufactured mechanical icebreaker.
According to Chris Navitsky, the manufacturer claims its equipment’s design clears pavement without the need for deicing.
It has never been used east of Utah but the potential exists for an Adirondack municipality to host one this winter provided it has the appropriate, auxiliary equipment, said Navitsky.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Meteorologist Frank Lombardo, the CEO of WeatherWorks.
According to Navitsky, Lombardo’s talk on “How Changing Weather Patterns are Impacting Winter Management Approaches,” will discuss the extreme weather events related to climate change that are challenging highway maintenance departments.
The day will conclude on a hopeful note. Assemblyman Billy Jones will discuss his proposal to expand the New York State’s Department of Transportation salt reduction pilot project in Lake Placid and Lake George to other parts of the Adirondack Park.
“There’s no turning back, no reversing the progress we’ve made on Lake George,” said Eric Siy. “The impacts of salt on health, on the ecology and on the economy, are now irrefutable. We’ve made Lake George a model for protecting our waters without sacrificing the safety of the public, and now’s the time to expand the application of the Lake George model to the broader community.”