What To Do With The Snow?

By Sarah Birnbaum

Feb. 1, 2011

BOSTON — With another six to eight inches of snow hitting the ground in New England on Tuesday — and up to ten expected on Wednesday — it's no surprise that public officials are starting to wonder what to do with all of the snow.

Typically, it either gets plowed to the side of the road, or hauled away to vacant lots called “snow farms."  But the snow farms are quickly filling up.  The city of Boston, for example, removed close to 40,000 tons of snow this weekend past alone.

State Sen. Jack Hart of South Boston says it's time to dump snow into Boston Harbor.  The practice is banned by state law, but Hart says it’s a matter of public safety.

“We are facing a real crisis, in my opinion.  Because of the heavy snow fall over the course of the past several weeks and the inability of people — pedestrians and drivers alike — to safely navigate their way around the city.  It’s really caused havoc,” Hart said.

Dumping snow into bodies of water is forbidden by state environmental officials.  They say the chemicals, de-icers, salt and the trash in the city snow would wind up in the waterways.

But others argue that contaminants would end up there anyway, when the snow melts and drains into the harbor.

Municipalities can ask for a temporary waiver allowing them to dump snow into the water in extreme circumstances.  And with snow banks growing higher by the minute, some say that extreme circumstances have arrived.  So far, though, no city or town has filed to lift the ban.

Your comments: Should crews be allowed to dump snow in waterways? What are you doing with the snow on your property?

From Harriet Reilly, age 5:

"I would get a machine that would suck it in and suck it in, but it would never get full. I would put it into the machine. Then I would turn it into oil and add a bunch of ingredients and turn it into food."

Full disclosure: Harriet is the daughter of WGBH's Adam Reilly.

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