New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
SNOW REMOVAL AND DISPOSAL POLICY
Finding a place to dispose of collected snow poses a challenge to municipalities and businesses as they clear roads, parking lots, bridges and sidewalks. While we are all aware of the threats to public safety caused by snow, collected snow that is contaminated with road salt, sand, dirt, litter and automotive pollutants such as oil, also threatens public health and the environment.
As snow melts, road salt, sand, litter and other pollutants are transported into surface water or through the soil where they may eventually reach the groundwater. Road salt and other pollutants can contaminate water supplies and are toxic to aquatic life at certain levels. Sand and dirt washed into water bodies can create sedimentation in wetlands and ponds, impacting aquatic life, causing flooding, and affecting our use of these resources.
There are several steps that communities can take to minimize the impacts of snow disposal on public health and the environment. These steps help communities avoid the costs of a contaminated water supply, degraded water bodies, and flooding. Everything we do on the land has the potential to impact our water resources.
The key to selecting effective snow disposal sites is to locate them adjacent to or on pervious surfaces in upland areas away from water resources and wells. At these locations, the snow meltwater can filter into the soil, leaving behind sand and debris which can be removed in the spring. The following areas should be avoided:
- Do not dump snow into any water body, including rivers, the ocean, reservoirs, ponds or wetlands. In addition to water quality impacts and flooding, snow disposed of in water can cause navigational hazards when it freezes into ice blocks.
- Do not dump snow taken from roadways onto areas adjacent to a public water supply well or reservoir.
- Avoid dumping snow in sanitary landfills. Snow meltwater will create more contaminated leachate in landfills posing a greater risk to groundwater.
- Avoid disposing of snow on top of storm drain catch basins or in stormwater drainage swales or ditches. Snow combined with sand and debris may block a storm drainage system, causing localized flooding. A high volume of sand, sediment, and litter released from melting snow also may be quickly transported through the system into surface water.
EMERGENCY SNOW REMOVAL
Under extraordinary conditions, when all land-based snow disposal options are exhausted, and when an emergency is declared by an appropriate government entity, disposal of snow that is not obviously contaminated with road salt, sand, and other pollutants may be allowed in certain water bodies under certain conditions. In these cases pre-approval is required by the NJDEP or the State Police on a case-by-case basis to municipalities and counties for the specific event.