State environmental officials are giving cities and towns the green light to dump accumulating snow into open water if necessary.
The Department of Environmental Protection on Monday cited the challenges involved in getting rid of the historic levels of snowfall that has fallen in recent weeks. Local communities may seek permission to take emergency steps that allow disposal of snow in the ocean or other bodies of water, which is normally prohibited.
Guidelines issued by the agency require that snow only be dumped in waterways with strong enough flow to prevent ice dams from forming. Disposal of snow is also prohibited in drinking water reservoirs, saltmarshes, vegetated wetlands, certified vernal pools, shellfish beds and mudflats.
Trucks carrying snow are also prohibited from areas where they may cause shoreline damage or erosion.
Like many communities, Marblehead, Massachusetts, is running out of room. The town has turned to its harbor where it’s started dumping as much snow as possible.
How bad the snow may be for the ocean is not the highest priority for many as they deal with snowbanks eight feet high. Town officials say the huge piles are a public safety issue and that’s taking top priority over pollution for now.