Tips for Lake-Friendly Snow Storage and Removal

Plan your snow storage to protect your property, septic system, and lake!

Did you know that improper snow storage and removal practices can damage lake quality?  Snow from parking areas and roadways carries salt, sand, debris, and contaminants from cars. Choosing a safe location to store your snow is an important part of protecting rivers, lakes, and drinking water, too!

Landowners are responsible for the snow removal practices that are conducted on their property. Here are some tips that will help you protect the quality of your local lake while allowing you to “dig out” after the snowstorms that are surely headed our way.

  • Designate an area large enough area for a whole winter’s worth of snow. It’s better to have too much space than not enough when big storms hit!
  • Ensure the area is free of infrastructure that could be damaged by the weight of snow piles or flooding from snowmelt.
  • Road salt is toxic. Pick an area or plant an area with plants that can tolerate salt from road deicers.
  • Never push snow into or towards waterways or wetlands, and avoid pushing it towards storm drains.
  • Keep snow storage areas at least 75 feet away from private wells and 200 feet away from public wells to protect drinking water recharge areas.
  • Keep snow storage away from septic tanks and leach fields to ensure that snowbanks and snowmelt do not interfere with the process of filtering effluent.

Say “no” to storage on your septic tank and leach field.

  • The weight of snow storage can lead to crushed or broken leach field pipes, cracks in the tank, and other safety concerns.
  • Soil compaction from heavy snow piles on a leach field limits soil oxygen, which is needed for adequate effluent treatment.
  • Meltwater can flood leach fields and interfere with their ability to treat effluent.

Be ready to treat the meltwater.

Snow storage areas accumulate toxic salt levels and benefit from tolerant plants that capture and filter water as it melts.

Salt-tolerant plants include:

  • Shrubs: osier dogwood, blueberry, chokecherry, beach rose, beach plum
  • Perrenials: foxglove, beebalm, catmint, daylily, yarrow, phlox, asters
  • Grasses: little bluestem

Lake-friendly living is year-round. If you want to learn more about living in a lake-friendly way throughout the seasons, visit our LakeSmart page!

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