Although temperatures have been shockingly warm over the past few weeks in Lake George, snow and freezing rain are still possibilities this season. To keep the roads safe and decrease the amount of salt runoff into the lake, the Town of Lake George is committed to using brine instead of road salt before major storms hit.
Photo Credit: Debbie Sweet
The town’s decision to pre-treat roads with brine is in response to over 30 years of road salt runoff tripling the amount of salt in Lake George. While solid road salt is effective in keeping the roads clear during winter, when the snow and ice melt, a lot of the salt makes its way to the lake.
When you consider the fact that 15,000 metric tons of road salt are applied on roads in the Lake George Region each year, it’s easy to understand why brine is important. Solid road salt damages vegetation, corrodes vehicles, and drastically changes aquatic ecosystems.
Brine is a liquid salt-water solution that plows use to cover roads before a winter storm; the effects of brine make it hard for ice to form. Since it has a salt concentration of 23%, it can only be used when the road surface temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
For the first step, the Lake George Watershed Coalition will purchase brine dispensers for Queenbury, Bolton, and the Town of Lake George. All of these communities will use brine to treat roads that are close to the lake.
In addition to the brine, this past December, the Town of Lake George received a matching grant of $9,750 from the Fund for Lake George and the S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership to buy a “live edge” plow. These special plows can grind and scrape up ice and snow, so less road salt has to be used.
Over the next few years, Lake George will be examined to see if these new de-icing methods reduce the amount of salt in the water. If so, the next step could be the installation of a regional brine production unit in the Town of Lake George for surrounding communities to use.
Are you happy to hear about this decision to use more brine in Lake George?