By Alex Israel
Community Board 7 is concerned about the large amount of salt that the city appears to be spreading throughout the neighborhood whenever there’s a forecast for snow.
The board’s transportation and parks committees decided to send a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) expressing concern about seasonal street salting. Transportation Committee Co-chair Howard Yaruss said he added the item to the January meeting agenda “after noticing an inch-deep layer of salt on 68th Street,” one day in late 2019.
Committee members shared concerns about both the financial and environmental burdens of proactively street salting. One referenced a study that found a correlation between unhealthy air quality and salt. Parks & Environment Committee Co-chair Klari Neuwelt added that aside from the above-ground damage it might cause, the salt “corrodes ConEd wires and leads to all sorts of damage and outages,” below us.
The city often uses copious amounts of salt even for small storms, according to Columbia University’s Earth Institute: “During the winters of 2016-18, DSNY used an average of 20,124 tons of salt during storms with 2 inches or less of snow accumulation. This works out to more than a ton of salt per lane mile, a high application rate even by the guidelines of The Salt Institute, a trade association that advocates for ‘the many benefits of salt.’ A similar amount of salt was used even during smaller storms, resulting in very high usage when weighted per inch of snow.”
There is “clearly harm being done as a result,” concluded Yaruss, before reaching the decision to send the letter—which was met with universal approval from the committees.