Traditionally, snow removed from urban streets was deposited in undeveloped lots and fields. As greater awareness of the contaminants (such as debris, oils, and road salt) in snow removed from streets emerged, regulations were developed for more sustainable snow storage solutions.
Municipalities seeking to meet environmental regulations, improve snow clearing operations, and reduce environmental risks, have developed designated snow sites. The facilities can store high volumes of snow, accommodate a large number of haul trucks for snow clearing activities, retain and release the melt water at pre-controlled discharge rates, reduce or manage environmental risks, and provide a cost-effective method of managing collected snow.
Climate change can increase volume of snow, as well as the rate and volume of snow melt
Project Manager, Sean Nicoll from our Grande Prairie office, tells us, “Design of snow storage sites have advanced significantly. Originally, snow sites were dedicated fields with little or no drainage controls. Design of snow storage sites evolved to include exposed compacted clay liners and melt water ponds, and then to partial or complete hard-surfaced snow pads. Today, modern snow storage facilities have hard surface snow pads with geosynthetic-liners and baffled ponds designed to remove sediment and debris.”
Today’s snow storage sites also address operational requirements and environmental risks. For example, some sites have electronic key card access to track or bill users. Depending on the release locations, site operational controls can include lift stations and forcemains to pump site effluent to acceptable discharge locations or based on the capacity of the regulated flow discharge receiving body for flow and chemical concentrations.
Sean says, “Climate change can also impact the design of snow sites. Severe winter storms can increase snow volumes, resulting in more snow clearing activities. Increased rainfall events can accelerate snow melt and the volume of melt water, resulting in faster melt rate of the piles.”
Associated Engineering has designed and constructed a number of major snow sites for the City of Edmonton, including the Southeast Snow Site (1 million cubic metres), Southwest Snow Site (1.25 million cubic metres), and Horse Hills Snow Site (2 million cubic metres). We are currently administering the construction of the Tower Road Snow Site (1 million cubic metres).
We have also designed a number of large-scale snow sites for the City of Saskatoon (1 million cubic metre Snow Storage Site), Fort McMurray (1 million cubic metres Tower Road Site), and several others in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon. Recognizing our leadership and experience, Communities of Tomorrow, which comprises 15 Saskatchewan municipalities, commissioned Associated Engineering to develop the Saskatchewan Snow Dump Management Guidelines.