Environment
5:00 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Buffalo River restoration entering next phase

A key partnership that will move cleanup of the Buffalo River forward was announced Monday. The newly-formed Buffalo Restoration Partnership will use $44 million to clean 6.2 miles of river sediment.

New partnership to move Buffalo River clean up forward
New partnership to move Buffalo River clean up forward
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper announced the project at Canalside Monday morning with local leaders.

"The Buffalo River is a federally-designated area of concern. This is not a badge of honor to carry. We were once one of the most polluted rivers in the country," said Riverkeeper executive director Jill Jedlicka.

Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The EPA, state DEC, and Honeywell are joining the Riverkeeper in the partnership.

Buffalo River at Canalside
Buffalo River at Canalside
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Rep. Brian Higgins says the partnership must remain vigilant in order to restore the biological integrity of the waterway.

"Keep in mind that in 1968, this waterway was declared biologically dead by the Environmental Protection Agency. It caught fire the next year because of all the toxicity in the water. EPA officials believe that in five years, this waterway will be swimmable and the fish that are [caught] there suitable for human consumption," Higgins said.

The cleanup will remove approximately 488,000 cubic yards, about 33,000 truckloads, of contaminated sediment. A 2011-2013 Army Corps of Engineers dredging removed 550,000 cubic yards of such sediment from the middle of the river.

Buffalo River from boardwalk at Canalside
Buffalo River from boardwalk at Canalside
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Through various efforts, nearly $75 million has been leveraged into the restoration of the river and its shoreline over the last decade.

The Riverkeeper has already identified more than 100 different chemicals in recent dredging of the river.

Dredging along river.
Dredging along river.
Credit WBFO News file photo