This guide will help communities and businesses dispose of plowed snow without harming the environment. The guide includes a link to an interactive map to locate snow disposal sites.
Snow Disposal Guidance
Table of Contents
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Snow Disposal Guidance offers information on the proper steps to take when locating sites for the disposal of snow. Finding a place to dispose of collected snow poses a challenge to municipalities and businesses as they clear roads, parking lots, bridges, and sidewalks. Public safety is of the utmost importance. However, care must be taken to ensure that collected snow, which may be contaminated with road salt, sand, litter, and automotive pollutants such as oil, is disposed of in a manner that will minimize threats to nearby sensitive resource areas.
In order to avoid potential contamination to wetlands, water supplies, and waterbodies, MassDEP recommends that municipalities and businesses identify and map appropriate upland snow disposal locations. To assist municipalities and businesses in this planning effort, and to avoid use of snow disposal at sites which compromise wetlands resources or public water supplies, MassDEP has developed this snow disposal mapping tool:
If a community or business demonstrates that there is no remaining capacity at upland snow disposal locations, local conservation commissions are authorized to issue Emergency Certifications under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act for snow disposal in certain wetland resource areas. In such cases, Emergency Certifications can only be issued at the request of a public agency or by order of a public agency for the protection of the health or safety of citizens, and are limited to those activities necessary to abate the emergency.
Note to Businesses: please check the snow disposal site mapping tool to see if your community has identified locations for snow disposal. Contact your town if there are no sites shown on the map. Do not call MassDEP for snow disposal locations.
In the event of a regional or statewide severe weather event, MassDEP may also issue a broader Emergency Declaration under the Wetlands Protect Act which allows greater flexibility in snow disposal practices. Details of this approval process are found below.
Snow Disposal Guidance - revision on Dec. 11, 2020
Effective Date: December 11, 2020
Applicability: Applies to all federal, state, regional and local agencies, as well as to private businesses.
Supersedes: Bureau of Resource Protection (BRP) Snow Disposal Guideline No. BRPG97-1 issued December 12, 1997 and BRPG01-01 issued March 8, 2001; Bureau of Water Resources (BWR) snow disposal guidance issued December 21, 2015, December 12, 2018, and December 23, 2019.
Approved by: Kathleen Baskin, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Water Resources
PURPOSE: To provide guidelines to all government agencies and private businesses regarding snow disposal site selection, site preparation and maintenance, and emergency snow disposal options that are protective of wetlands, drinking water, and water bodies, and are acceptable to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Bureau of Water Resources.
During declared statewide snow emergency events, MassDEP’s website will also highlight the emergency contact phone number (1-888-304-1133) for authorizations and inquiries. For further non-emergency information about this Guidance you may contact your MassDEP Regional Office Service Center:
Northeast Regional Office, Wilmington, 978-694-3246
Southeast Regional Office, Lakeville, 508-946-2714
Central Regional Office, Worcester, 508-792-7650
Western Regional Office, Springfield, 413-755-2114