De-icer regs called for after dog drowns
Horicon, N.Y. — A northern Warren County woman is advocating for regulations pertaining to how de-icing machines are used on New York’s lakes.
Cindy Mead took on the issue – one that has been debated in the ice fishing community for years – after her daughter’s dog drowned in Brant Lake. The dog had wandered off and gotten into the open water created by a de-icer and was unable to get back on shore or on the adjacent ice and was later found deceased in the water.
De-icers, which are commonly referred to as “bubblers” or “ice-eaters,” are used by lakeside residents to protect their docks from ice damage in the winter. But as ice anglers often stated, Mead says in many cases they go too far and create dangerous conditions.
New York State has no regulation pertaining to de-icers, which add no chemicals to the water. Upon finding that out Mead went on a mission, reaching out to local and regional politicians and found that the issue can be addressed locally.
“It has to be at the town level. The town has to do an ordinance just like a dock ordinance,” Mead said. “I have found other towns – there’s a couple out on Lake Ontario, and in Minnesota, Michigan and New Jersey – they have town ordinances. So that’s how it’s gotta go through.”
Along with contacting politicians, Mead has started an online petition that has over 1,000 signatures, and gained momentum after her letter to the Editor was published in The Chronicle newspaper, in Glens Falls. She’s also updating her Facebook page regularly as she learns of more municipalities that regulate de-icers.
One of those is Little Sodus Bay, on Lake Ontario, where new rules that apply to de-icers are in place. Mead is modeling her requests to her town board in Horicon after Little Sodus Bay, where the rules require residents who use the devices to sign a liability waiver. Also, de-icers are not allowed within 300 feet of any public access area, nor can they create an area of open water larger than 20 feet from the dock they are protecting.
In addition, property owners using de-icers must have proper signage that warn of open water and have flashing amber lights that are visible at night.
Some municipalities go further and require that life preserver rings, ladders and long poles be accessible near the area being serviced by a de-icer.
Mead says her town supervisor was very receptive to the idea and that although she’ll be out of town for much of the winter, she provided the town leaders with a packet of all the information she gathered and is hoping an ordinance will be passed.
“What I’m suggesting is effective, easy and inexpensive,” she said. “This is what other towns have done. This is easy, how can anyone complain about this?”