Saying Scajaquada Creek has been a mistreated waterway, local representatives to the New York State Senate and Assembly joined other stakeholders to announce public funding for a project that aims to clean the creek waters as they travel through Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Crews have constructed a space where, upon the planting of vegetation, a wetland will be formed to take in future overflows.
It was described as a "parking lot" for that water, which will be filtered through the vegetation and eventually returned to the creek to continue flowing toward the Niagara River.
"It's designed to take water coming in from the creek when there's high water levels, rain events, and kind of hold it for a while and give it time to settle down through the soil and filter out some of those pollutants," said Kerrie Gallo, deputy executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. "There will be robust plantings once they establish that will help to take up some of those pollutants as well."
The State Senate and Assembly are contributing $300,000 each. Senator Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Sean Ryan represented their respective legislative houses at Tuesday morning's announcement. Jacobs noted there was already the presence of spring water flowing as the result of the reconstruction which will also help in the cleanup process.
Ryan noted that Scajaquada Creek is filled with solid waste discharges that come from upstream, rolling through "two of the most beautiful attributes of Western New York," Forest Lawn Cemetery and Buffalo's Delaware Park.
Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, acknowledged the US Army Corps of Engineers' assistance with the project as well as private donations which also help cover the estimated $2.8 million price tag. She also stated that work continues to introduce measures that will help clean the creek's water upstream in locations including Clarence and Lancaster.
"This project has proven to be the catalyst that we needed it to be," Jedlicka said. "We are showing success. We are making physical change in this creek system. The areas both upstream and downstream of Scajaquada are also building partnerships and getting projects moving and in the ground."
Completion of the project in Forest Lawn Cemetery is expected later this year.