About Ry Rivard

Ry covers water for the Explorer. Before coming to New York, he reported on water and energy for Voice of San Diego.
He can be reached at ry@adirondackexplorer.org.

Reader Interactions


  1. andrew says

    We had .6 inches in Lake Placid last week. During my daily commute that morning, an 18 wheeler was hopelessly stuck spinning it’s wheels and backing up traffic on the intersection of Sentinel and Main Street. I watched two vehicles lock up their brakes and skid through the 5 way intersection by the Fire Department. All of this is to say that there is no question that the roads are now less safe. I can’t wait for the DMV stats comparing the rate of accidents before and after the salt ban. Once those are complied, I hope it would be impossible for a municipality to continue with this feel good nonsense.

  2. Bridget says

    Well until its a problem in all of New Yorkers own back yard is when there minds will change
    And its really a shame how the environment has to suffer the consequences over all

  3. John (Scooter) Wetmore says

    It seems more and more we are examining the balance between nature and the expectations of modern lifestyle. My grandmother talked about a time when a winter storm meant leaving the car at home and taking a team of horses and a sleigh into town. In later years, a winter storm meant putting tire chains on and very slow driving. Today’s expectation is that normal speed limits should be possible, winter weather or not.

    Because of the pandemic, I started looking at death rates from all kinds of things to compare to that from the Covid-19 situation. It turns out that a person’s chance of dying in a car crash is one in 103. Thinking about this, I looked at the measures that the American people have been willing to put up with to lower the death rate from the virus and then wondered if they would be willing to change their transportation preferences to save lives. In New York the speed limit is 55 most places and 65 on the major highways. Suppose we were to take the speed limit to 40 miles per hour? What would that do to the death rate? Well if we go a step further, suppose we do away with cars totally and go back to horses. The death rate would be reduced astronomically. Of course, the public would never accept such a sacrifice and is willing to live with the one in 103 chance of dying. What is the right number? I think people become accustomed to lifestyle standards and then a change is painful in either direction. Slow change is likely the best way to go so that people don’t notice it. Maybe a small percentage reduction of salt would allow most traffic to continue as normal and phase in the reduction over several years. Maybe in the future as people are putting on their tire chains for a trip to town, they could tell their grandchildren about a time when we poisoned the planet for the convenience of summer road conditions all year long. Perhaps this would be met with the same amazement I had from my grandmother’s stories about switching to horses when things got bad. I should also mention that when my mother attended high school, she had to rent a room in town because the ten mile distance to home was just too far to travel every day.

    I grew up in a time when modern things made life easier, faster, and bigger. If we have weeds, we can just spray them away until we find out this new labor saver gives us cancer. If we have medical issues, we have pills, until we find out that these kill us in worse ways. Cigarettes were very cool and everyone smoked until we discovered that this would kill us. We seem to live in a time when anything new is not only accepted but given priority over the traditional until we find the truth. Our society demonizes those who want to slow down change and look to history and tradition for guidance instead of accepting change quickly.

  4. batman says

    I’m a firm believer that salting the roads makes them more difficult to drive on due to the slush that is created. I find it much easier to drive on fresh snow, to a certain depth, than to drive on the slush. Let’s do it like Quebec and have mandatory snow tires laws and maybe use some of the salt savings to subsidized the tires for lower income people.

  5. David Froehlich says

    I’m all for less salt. I’d like to buy a vehicle and have it last more than 10 years. I live in Northern NY and have snow tires on my 4×4 tacoma. It makes all the difference from the all seasons I have on in the summer. 4×4 isn’t going to save you if you don’t have traction and salt can’t always guarantee that. Our northern neighbors in Ontario have to run snow tires in the winter. Ideally, the money saved by spreading less salt could go to a snow tire rebate for those who can’t afford them.

  6. Jacqueline L Fifield says

    I hope you think twice about cutting salt out, salt is much more safer on the roads in the winter time here. Let’s save lives and let people die naturally.

  7. Susan says

    How about requiring real winter tires for vehicles that don’t have 4WD or AWD? Not necessarily studded, although we all used studded tires 50 years ago on our rear wheel drive station wagons. Cars are rusting faster than ever now.

  8. John S. Sipos says

    It’s a shame how much salt is spread
    on our roads here in northern N.Y.
    I’m near 70 yrs old and remember
    when very little salt was used, and
    that was used just in villages and in town. You had real snow tires then,
    not these so called (all season).
    We were very rural and I remember
    Pa putting tire chains on the pu truck and they stayed on all winter. Rural
    roads were hard pack snow with
    ruts. Well,with winters milder and
    equipment more efficient, cut back
    on the heavy salting of our roads
    and land . Slow down on our roads,
    you’ll get there just a few minutes
    later and safe. !!!!!

  9. Donald F Woodcock says

    Using so much salt isn’t only bad for the environment but doesn’t do our overpriced motor vehicles any good either. I had 10 beautiful maple trees in my front yard that were next to the roadside that ended up being killed by the road salt . It was very painful for me to see the state finally cut them all down. These trees were planted by my family members. This property has been in the family since the 1830’s. The day that they cut the trees down, I left the premises for the whole day.

  10. Dan Aldous says

    This is more of a want then a need! People want to drive faster and don’t want to buy actual snow tires….so make the roads snow/ice free!!! People want to walk across parking lots in dress shoes because its too much of a hassle to wear snow boots and then change. Yes people want to be safe…..but being safe starts with you!! Put studded tires on your vehicle….wear appropriate clothing/boots…allow extra time to travel both walking and driving. Your safety should not compromise the safety of the environment that most people pretend they care about until they slide off the road because they are traveling too fast and blame road crews for not putting enough salt on the road.

  11. Joe Cashin says

    I have been in the winter liquids business for 10+ years, and I can assure you that Salt brine is a limited tool. Salt in any form is salt. Salt brine should not be used below 23F. This is ground temperature and not air temperature. Other liquids can be more effective, save more money, and equate to less salt being introduced into the environment. Most salt brine savings numbers are greatly overstated. The company I work for can help. We help towns, DOTs and Cities save money and use less salt every winter. We have been doing this for 30+ years as a company. There are many different methods, not just one silver bullet.

  12. Tim says

    Boreas, you should know by now that in this day and age that people will not tolerate being told what to do! How dare they stop using such great amounts of salt, “them people” are entitled to drive as fast as they choose!

  13. Linda Finch says

    You think SALT is your major issue? Think again. I assumed that the Southern Tier region of NY had stopped sending radioactive Frack salt waste from Pennsylvania for road salting, but apparently I was incorrect. It is still being utilized while the salt study proceeds. Outrageous. That was part of why I fled that area home to the ADK….now it appears that gross industry has followed me.
    Oh….please check that out and prove me wrong!

  14. Steve says

    Simple solution
    Just find an alternative to salt so we don’t kill the environment.
    Until then, use less and lower the speed limits during and after storms. People don’t like it? Too bad.

  15. Sara Vettori says

    Maybe they need to take some advice from other snow filled areas. I lived in the Keweenaw of the upper peninsula in Michigan and we would get 300” of snow or more every winter.
    I have lived a lot of different places and they maintained there roads like a boss. Also people who live there are prepared for it! They get snow tires, if they don’t drive a 4×4 they drive something with all wheel drive usually a Subaru.
    But the roads are being plowed, cleaned, constantly. But the difference is they mix it a lot salt/regular sand, salt/stamp sand (local from mining areas) there is a way to adjust the readings on there trucks too drop more salt or sand like when they come to a intersection. Or large hills, or before the snow or rain comes… you have hard dedicated workers that know they are working all hours in winter time.
    Now NY & MI have access to a lot more salt then other areas. I went to North Dakota & they use a Beet juice mix on there roads in the winter. Of course I joked about it but they use the resources they have so maybe more research into other areas also because the Keweenaw isn’t Mountains but it is a lot of hilly windy backroad areas.
    And if you talk about accident count in first study well you need to realize all these people have been spoiled in the winter and need to realize what winter driving really is. I appreciate a slower winter drive it makes you appreciate your surroundings.
    Just a thought towards the future winter maintenance because I would rather have trees and lakes to fish and a non rusted out Jeep with winter tires driving through a beautiful area slowly then have them put all the salt on!!!

  16. Robert Bernard says

    All season tires are for the south where the temp stays above 30. Snow tires on your car and some comin sense will get you where you need to go. you don’t need a 4wd truck to drive in the winter.

  17. Todd Eastman says

    Hard to get off the kick-backs and subsidies for the salt industry…

    … big money rubbing salt in our woads!

    Great article Ry!

  18. Jess Aksin says

    Salting roads leads to salt in ground water and of course surface water; lakes and rivers. Many folks beyond the range of “town water” take their water from wells. My well water has over 400 ppm sodium and over 600 ppm chloride. I don’t drink it. As Ry noted, salt in drinking water can lead to a host of health ills that are generally associated with poverty and lifestyle choices. Stroke, high blood pressure and liver failure are frequently assigned to smoking, drinking and poor diet. These are all problems that plague long time Adirondack residents and are generally attributed to lifestyle choices. Dying of salt induced health problems is hardly a natural death. In a row of three homes along a major thoroughfare, 2 out of 3 long time ADK resident women are wheel chair bound. Is this the “natural” way to go or just the sacrifice we make to keep jobs in the north country ?

  19. Jeremy Hinsdale says

    Great article. I’m glad to see the issue of road salt — and especially it’s use in the ADK — getting the thought and attention it deserves. It’s a complex challenge, but I’m optimistic that once people recognize the problems created by excessive road salt they’ll begin to take steps to mitigate its impact on their communities.

  20. Janet says

    Just stumbled on another of your story. Thanks for posting it! Anyone favouring road salts and ignoring dire facts ranging from water- air- soils- pollution, ruin of most everything else, plus harming health of humans to animals is definition of legal /judicial corruption.
    Among the stories on origin of using salts on roads is that in 1940’s New York State where salt mining had begun as alternative to collecting sea salt for use in processed meats and pork, salt was accidentally spilled on snow/ice which led to idea for expanding sales of rock-salts for use on roadways. At that time it was a novel and extremely rare event. It was decades before the recent 42+ years of increasingly aggressive applying salts to roadways that annually dump 25,000,000+ tons on roads in 75% of 48 US states that have snow & ice winter weather.
    All of the salts be they NaCl, CaCl, KCL, MgCL, CMA, brines, urea, their blends are all corrosive and pollutants, they ruin cars trucks, roads, bridges, walks, buildings, all infrastructures.

    Given the current political hot-air toward, “Infrastructure Bill” and it’s Trillions $ budget it is a huge hypocrisy in many ways do to facts that the political and judicial realms have dedicated decades to destroying our infrastructures with salts. It along with overly suffocating and very costly Red-Tape that have been barriers against upkeep of roads, bridges, and all infrastructures.

    Consider the hoopla on going Green political agendas are ridiculous and and only achieve the opposite by relentless continuation of mindless consumerism funded by debts. A definition of modern slavery no matter if viewed by liberals/ progressives, or conservatives.

    The business model of Wall St, Financiers, Bankers, Insurance, and all large manufacturing is PLM, promote, make, sell, obsolete, ruin, repeat,… labelled as growth to environmentally friendly. I.e., as to cars US & most First World: In 1945 10% of people had cars, by 1970 35% had cars, 2021 we are at car saturation thus 85% of population have cars. Thus car business models revolve on replacing cars sooner & sooner. Salts play a key role to ruin cars while medias (heavily funded by ads), lobbyists and politicians spew road salts are for safety. The myth of safety by road salts and ‘safe cars’ have invited and cultivated human obliviousness, recklessness, egocentric behaviours, road-rage, reduced caring courtesy and empathy, increased driving speeds. Add distractions such as on dash video screens, Iphones, iPads, in cars besides pedestrians mesmerised by them too the pied-piper is present and active 24/7.

    The political & business slant to EV cars assures all the existing ones are obsolete, and is another way to force buying new cars. All the while ignoring the huge amount of energy & materials required from Raw to Ready to make cars & everything else. Too many humans have been led and embraced mindless consumerism no matter what its label. Fighting: Global Warming? Climate Change? Going Green???? Are all merely Snake Oil Sales Pitch & Medicine Shows!

    Here are a couple weblinks out of hundreds that give attention to scope of ruin & pollution by road salts:


    Yes, as Boreas wrote under, ‘New York’s Rules Defeat lawsuit over road salts pollution’, “On Going Train Wreck” it is much too kind given the scope and scale locally to all of North America.

    It’s worth mentioning that Europe has most sadly begun to copy the road salts policies and practices in USA. Out of many examples, during the snow events that have occurred in Rome during its at least 3,000 year existence. During the February 18, 2018 snow event in Rome salts were applied to ‘melt’ snow on roads and ancient bridges among them was Pons Milvius over the Tiber river. Pons Milvius was built at least 2,200 years ago. It was mentioned by Titus Livius in 207 BC in his writings about Punic Wars.

    In summary, we all need to re-connect with Nature for simple fact we are all part of Nature. Every living thing on Earth no matter if are bacteria’s, fungi, plants, marine creatures, birds, reptiles, mammals all vitally rely on Nature and adjust their behaviours to their habitats no matter where they are geographically on Earth. Accordingly, everyone should adjust their ways of being and doing to be in harmony with seasons of the year.

    In simple examples:
    All experienced sailors surely know and advise it is absolutely necessary to adjust to sea, ocean, river, lake conditions and weather.
    Be aware of surroundings. If weather conditions are challenging to travels be they in any manner on foot, road, paths, rail, air, sea, …wait until later,.. do something else as our ancestors did. Dress appropriately for season and weather conditions. Avoid herd mentality especially when driving cars, herd behaviours assure car crashes, pile-ups. The road speed limit signs are for ideal visibility, weather, very low traffic volume, .. but not for all weather conditions and visibility no matter if one is in Arctic, Temperate, Subtropical, Tropical, Desert, climates.

  21. Timber says

    I’ve been very concerned about over the over use of salt in the Adirondacks for 20 years. Our small community has numerous residents with contaminated wells from road salt that are unusable for human consumption. I once emailed NYS DEC asking about the over use of salt to a reply of salt isn’t a contaminate. We have some of the purest water in the nation and be polluted daily in the winter and paid for by every taxpayer . My question is who’s regulating the limit salt use act. I see no change in NYS DOT use of salt . Still using a ridiculous amount of salt . Concerned Adirondacker

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