The amount of chlorides deposited by highway crews in the Lake George watershed has begun to shrink, thanks in part to the growing use of a salty, liquid solution known as brine.
The contamination of groundwater, tributaries and ultimately the lake itself has been slowed, while, at the same, the safety of the roads has remained intact, or has even improved, some officials maintain. All at a reduced cost to taxpayers.
In developed places such as the Village and Town of Lake George, however, as much as 50% of the paved surfaces – parking lots, homeowners associations, driveways – are privately owned and maintained.
“We’ve had success helping the municipalities to reduce their use of salt – not just with brine but with live edge plows that conform to roads’ erratic surfaces and more and better data – but less success with private contractors,” said Chris Navitsky, the Lake George Waterkeeper.
As part of an effort to reduce the private sector’s use of salt, the Lake George Association and the Town of Lake George are joining forces to purchase a new, industrial-sized mixer that will produce a consistent and affordable supply of brine not only the Town and Village but for the private contractors who maintain parking lots and private roads.
The Lake George Association will contribute $40,000 toward the purchase of the unit, Lake George Deputy Supervisor Vincent Crocitto II has announced.
According to Chris Navitsky, the source of the grant is the LGA’s Road Salt Reduction Initiative.
When managed by the LGA’s predecessor, The Fund for Lake George, the initiative helped finance the purchase of a brine-making unit for Warren County’s Department of Public Works and another for the Town of Hague.
In 2016, the Waterkeeper program donated equipment that it had acquired from a brine mixer’s manufacturer to the Town of Lake George, which it has used every winter since then.
The new mixer will be a much-needed upgrade of the demo model, said Navitsky.
“That model can brew only 300 gallons an hour – not enough to meet the needs of the Town and the Village,” said Navitsky. “The new model can produce as much as 1,500 gallons per hour.”
According to Crocitto and Navitsky, that amount of brine should produce a surplus that could be sold to private contractors.
“Once the Town and Village have what they need – including what they will need for future storm events – then brine could be made available to private contractors or business owners,” said Navitsky.
With brine more accessible to private contractors, their use of the de-icing alternative “will be catalyzed,” said Nsavitsky.
Any private contractor or property management firm who purchases brine from the Town must, however, demonstrate competence in the proper application of the product.
“That’s one of the stipulations in the grant,” said Navitsky.
The new unit will be on display at this year’s Adirondack Champlain Regional Salt Summit, to be held October 3 at the Fort William Henry Hotel, said Vinnie Crocitto.
The unit that is to be replaced may be donated to a private business, expanding the use of road salt alternatives by the private sector, said Navitsky.
According to Navitsky, the Town’s attorneys are in the process of reviewing contracts in anticipation of a Town Board resolution accepting the LGA’s contribution and proceeding with the purchase of the brine-making equipment.