Thu August 14, 2008
Officials Inspect Conditions in Scajaquada Creek
By Joyce Kryszak
Buffalo, NY – State and local officials got a close look Wednesday at pollution in Scajaquada creek and Hoyt Lake. New York State Department of Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis came along for a canoe ride to scout out the best plan to clean up the fouled waterways.
As a former commissioner of environment for Erie County, Richard Tobe was able to paint a vivid picture of the problems facing Buffalo's park waterways.
He recounted the history of efforts to divert sewage, debris and excess storm runoff.
But the system of tunnels and filter gates are no longer working as they should. High levels of bacteria and pollution in the lake and creek are proof of that.
Julie Barrett O'Neill is Executive Director for the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. The group monitors the waterways and tries to keep on top of dumping and cleanup. But O'Neill said a lead governmenatl agency is needed to really get the job done. Left only to volunteer efforts, O'Neill said the massive, long term clean-up project could falll through the cracks.
Commissioner Grannis said they won't let that happen. He said the state's fiscal woes will not bring all work to a halt.
Grannnis was invited by New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt to come and help map out a solution. Hoyt said that will involve the efforts of everyone - including surrounding towns such as Cheektowaga, which add to the run off problems.
Hoyt said the state and federal agencies can provide the carrots and sticks to bring everyone on board.
But officials admit that finding the money for the multi-faceted clean-up - including the likely dredging of the creek - will be the biggest challenge.
A $150,000 state grant has been secured to begin some work. And officials say there are some "low-tech" solutions, such as tree pits and establishing wetlands, that could mitigate problems in the short term.
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