Guide Guidelines on Road Salt Storage

MassDEP prohibits the storage of road salt near drinking water supplies. Read this guide to learn how to store road salt safely.

Purpose and Applicability

Effective Date: December 19, 1997
Guideline No. DWSG97-1

Applicability: Applies to all parties storing road salt or other chemical deicing agents.

Supersedes: Fact Sheet: DEICING CHEMICAL (ROAD SALT) STORAGE (January 1996)

Approved by: Arleen O'Donnell, Asst. Commissioner for Resource Protection

PURPOSE: To summarize salt storage prohibition standards around drinking water supplies and current salt storage practices.

APPLICABILITY: These guidelines are issued on behalf of the Bureau of Resource Protection's Drinking Water Program. They apply to all parties storing road salt or other chemical deicing agents.

The Road Salt Problem

Historically, there have been incidents in Massachusetts where improperly stored road salt has polluted public and private drinking water supplies. Recognizing the problem, state and local governments have taken steps in recent years to remediate impacted water supplies and to protect water supplies from future contamination. As a result of properly designing storage sheds, new incidents are uncommon. These guidelines summarize salt storage prohibition standards around drinking water supplies and current salt storage practices.

Salt Pile Restrictions in Water Supply Protection Areas

Uncovered storage of salt is forbidden by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 85, section 7A in areas that would threaten water supplies. The Drinking Water Regulations, 310 CMR 22.21(2)(b), also restrict deicing chemical storage within wellhead protection areas (Zone I and Zone II) for public water supply wells, as follows: "storage of sodium chloride, chemically treated abrasives or other chemicals used for the removal of ice and snow on roads [are prohibited], unless such storage is within a structure designed to prevent the generation and escape of contaminated runoff or leachate." For drinking water reservoirs, 310 CMR 22.20C prohibits, through local bylaw, uncovered or uncontained storage of road or parking lot de-icing and sanding materials within Zone A at new reservoirs and at those reservoirs increasing their withdrawals under MGL Chapter 21G, the Water Management Act.

For people on a low-sodium diet, 20 mg/L of sodium in drinking water is consistent with the bottled water regulations' meaning of "sodium free." At 20 mg/L, sodium contributes 10% or less to the sodium level in people on a sodium-restricted diet.

Additional Resources for Salt Pile Restrictions in Water Supply Protection Areas

Salt Storage Best Management Practices

Components of an "environment-friendly" roadway deicing salt storage facility include:

  • the right site = a flat site;
  • adequate space for salt piles;
  • storage on a pad (impervious/paved area);
  • storage under a roof; and
  • runoff collection/containment.

For more information, see The Salt Storage Handbook, 6th ed. Virginia: Salt Institute, 2006.

Additional Resources for Salt Storage Best Management Practices

Salt Storage Practices of the Massachusetts Highway Department

The Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) has 216 permanent salt storage sheds at 109 locations in the state. On leased land and state land under arteries and ramps, where the MHD cannot build sheds, salt piles are stored under impermeable material. This accounts for an additional 15 sites. The MHD also administers a program to assist municipalities with the construction of salt storage sheds. Of 351 communities, 201 municipalities have used state funds for salt storage facilities.

Additional Resources for Salt Storage Practices of the Massachusetts Highway Department

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