University of Vermont Graduate Thesis
Between 2017-2018, I worked at the University of Vermont to explore the management practices of private contractors who maintain private roadways, driveways, commercial parking lots, and sidewalks.
Winter road maintenance keeps roads free of snow and ice, but can also negatively impact surface water quality, pose risks to aquatic life, and may contaminate groundwater and increase risks of contamination for private wells or public drinking supplies sourced from groundwater.
Many municipalities have adopted preventative measures (best management practices) to reduce salt use as environmental impacts have grown and materials costs have risen, while providing a similar level of service. However, it is largely unknown to what degree private companies have adopted these practices.
Through a mixed-methods analysis, my graduate thesis focused on identifying the current practices of private contractors through quantitative survey data and use these findings to inform qualitative interviews to further explore the barriers and motivations private contractors have to adopting best management practices.
Study findings are already being applied towards reccomendations for community-based social marketing outreach and learning opportunities for contractors, such as informing the annual Lake Champlain Deicing Conference. Ultimately the study and recommendations aim to increase private contractors’ awareness of environmental and economic outcomes of their practices and lower barriers to adopting new, lower salt best management practices.