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Saturday 10 December 2022
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Thruway Maintenance is Causing Major Problems for Farmers

Farmers in Upstate New York claim that roadway maintenance has tainted their water wells, and as a result, their livestock have suffered.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle, at Frederick’s Farm in Phelps, NY, Jan and John Frederick are losing too many cattle from the tainted well.

“They salt the Thruway — I mean heavy,” John said. “Sometimes when you look out there in a windstorm it looks like a white cloud of dust.”

The Fredericks are being forced into making a difficult decision: give up their family farming business or risk everything and keep farming.

Since 2011, the Fredericks have lost a total of 88 animals from unknown causes, but they are now realizing it’s from salt contamination.

New York State is the number one state in the country in terms of amount of salt used on its roads. Environmental experts are realizing that the amount of salt being used on the roadways has serious consequences for other wildlife.

WHEC reports that just in the Irondequoit Bay, the amount of road salt tainting the bay has doubled the 30-year average. The bay was almost ruined by too much salt infestation in the 1970s and is now at risk again.

Approximately one quarter of all rainfall in the U.S. becomes groundwater, and road salt is affecting not only cattle and other livestock but drinking water for people, too.

After discovering that road salt is the reason for their loss of cattle, the Fredericks filed a lawsuit against the Thruway Authority.

“It is simply not possible to say to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that runoff from the Thruway Authority’s property affected claimant’s well water,” the Thruway Authority’s lawyer said in court. The case is headed to trial in the New York State Court of Claims.

The Fredericks have turned to Paul Richards, a hydrology consultant, to help with their case against the Thruway Authority. Richards believes that karst, which promotes the rapid movement of contaminated groundwater, aligns 71 miles of the State Thruway. This makes it much more likely that water wells along that stretch of Thruway are being contaminated by road salt.

“I think it is a legitimate concern,” Richards said.