DEM: Plan now for winter snow removal

(Photo: Susan Campbell / WPRI 12)
(Photo: Susan Campbell / WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Department of Environment Management (DEM) is reminding government agencies and private businesses to make early preparations in anticipation for this upcoming winter season by selecting and preparing potential snow disposal sites.

DEM has developed guidelines to assist state, municipal government agencies, and private businesses select, prepare and maintain appropriate disposal sites for snow and ice.

The agency said snow collected from roads, parking lots, bridges, and sidewalks may contain harmful contaminants- such as road salt, sand, and litter- that can compromise water supplies.

There are several steps that can be taken to minimize the impacts of snow disposal. DEM advises organizations to:

  • Locate snow collection sites adjacent to or on pervious surfaces in upland areas, away from water resources and wells. This will allow snow melt to filter into the soil, leaving behind sand and debris. The latter should be removed as soon as possible but no later than springtime.
  • Prepare and maintain snow collection sites to maximize their effectiveness – such as installing a silt fence or sediment barriers on the down-gradient side of the site; maintaining a vegetative buffer between the site and adjacent water bodies; and clearing away debris prior to and after using the area for snow disposal.
  • Under normal winter conditions, store and dispose of snow exclusively in upland areas and not in or adjacent to water bodies or wetlands. DEM’s Snow Disposal Policy includes guidance on emergency disposal of snow under extraordinary circumstances when upland snow storage options are exhausted.

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 www.dem.ri.gov.