Road salt usage in the Adirondack Park could be reduced starting next year under a bill signed on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The measure will create a pilot program for alternatives to road salt in the vast region beginning in October of next year and running through 2024. If successful, alternative road salt usage in the park could become the norm.
Environmental conservation organizations cheered the bill's approval amid a push to better waterways in the park, including 11,000 lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of rivers, streams and brooks within the area.
Similar pilot programs in the Lake George region and on Mirror Lake have been successful.
“Signing this bill into law is a big step forward for protecting Adirondack waterways by putting science, testing, and road salt reduction solutions on the ground park-wide,” said Kelley Tucker of the Ausable River Association.
The concern is road salt could lead to a long-term damaging of the water supply, especially when used in heavy doses.
“Drinking water across the Adirondacks has been compromised by road salt contamination,” said Dan Kelting, executive director at Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute. “Our testing shows a strong correlation between salty water and state-maintained highways. The problem is identified. Now we need to fix it.”
The measure was approved by lawmakers this year in honor of Randy Preston, a Wilmington town supervisor who died from brain cancer a year ago. Preston had been a local government supporter of reducing road salt usage.