Steamboat Springs officials urge residents to remove, store snow properly this winter

Officials in Steamboat Springs are urging residents to remember that residential and commercial snow removal and storage can have long-lasting effects if not handled properly.

“Melting snow is stormwater water too. Snow picks up debris, chemicals and other pollutants that can end up in our streams and river,” said Water Resources Manager Julie Baxter in a news release. “We’re asking everyone to keep this in mind this winter and pay attention to where you put your snow.”

While many contractors and residents use machines to assist moving and storing snow each season, city officials noted in the release that this equipment has the potential to release oil, fuel and other liquids that can make their way into local waterways as snow melts.

Additionally, local officials say de-icing chemicals should be used judiciously, while property owners should apply only what salt is required to make walkways and driveways safe.

Steamboat Springs also requires the following practices when plowing or storing snow:

  • When piling snow after shoveling and plowing, choose locations where the snow will have the greatest opportunity to infiltrate the ground instead of becoming stormwater runoff.
  • Do not pile snow on storm drains, and ensure that storm drains are clear.
  • Do not pile snow near water bodies and wetlands.
  • Do not plow snow directly into a waterway. If plowed snow is allowed to enter a waterway directly or incidentally, it is considered a violation of city’s municipal code.
  • Snow can be stored above a stream bank if it is not overspilling into a creek or river.
  • As snow piles melt, trash must be picked up and disposed of properly.
  • Plowing equipment must be maintained to prevent fluid leaks. If any leaks are detected, they must be addressed and cleaned up immediately. Drip pans may be necessary for persistent leaks.
  • If equipment is being fueled on-site, care must be given to prevent spills. If a spill occurs, it must be cleaned up immediately.

“It’s important that we pay attention throughout the winter since these pollutants can have lasting effects on your property as well as our creeks and river,” Stormwater Specialist and Engineering Inspector Scott Slamal said. “It’s a long and hopefully snowy season, so we appreciate everyone’s help in protecting our watershed.”

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