The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) joined six other Adirondack environmental advocacy groups calling for Gov. Hochul to implement salt reduction recommendations. The coalition of nonprofits requested advancement of key actions outlined in the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force Assessment and Recommendations Report.
The report underscores the urgent need for action, detailing the origins of our road salt issue, its broad-ranging impacts, and the necessity for region-specific guidelines on salt usage. The state report offers recommendations to raise public awareness, improve transparency, and promote best practices while suggesting potential pilot projects for a safer road environment.
The coalition’s letter to the governor specifically requested the establishment of a joint-agency council and advisory committee to oversee salt reduction efforts. It also provided detailed actions to implement the plan and the reallocation of the state’s salt budget for implementation. The coalition includes ADK Action, Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), Adirondack Council, Ausable River Association, Adirondack Lakes Alliance, Adirondack Mountain Club, and the USF.
The USF actively supports recommendations of the report because of the impact salt is having on our watershed. It is estimated that the salt load on roads in the Upper Saranac watershed is approximately 1,242 tons annually. Upper Saranac Lake (USL) has a substantially higher concentration level of salt compared to Adirondack lakes without paved roads — 16 times higher for sodium and 37 times higher for chloride.
Excessive road salt application is leaching into surface and groundwater, releasing toxic substances into our water supplies, harming aquatic life, killing vegetation, and threatening our health. High salinity in groundwater can contribute to high blood pressure and other health conditions in humans, and destroy plumbing and appliances in households. There are now numerous households in the Upper Saranac watershed that have documented contaminated well water and are now forced to purchase bottled water for household use.
The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force set a target of keeping most lakes below 10 mg/L of chloride. USL is just below that threshold but is trending upward. The report also suggested Lake Clear as part of the Upper Saranac watershed to be included as a chloride-free pilot program location. The State Salt Task Force was co-chaired by the commissioners of Transportation and Environmental Conservation, and included local scientist and Paul Smith’s College Interim President Dan Kelting, as well as other government officials.