Governor orders investigation into Niagara Falls wastewater discharge

Aug 1, 2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state regulators to investigate wastewater discharges that turned the water near the base of Niagara Falls black last weekend.

The Governor said the City of Niagara Falls may have violated state water quality standards Saturday when the local wastewater treatment plant discharged foul-smelling, black-colored water into the Niagara River just below the falls.  The dark water enveloped the dock for the popular Maid of the Mist tour boats on the American side of the falls.

"Niagara Falls and the Niagara River are a world-class destination for tourists and we should not be polluting this unparalleled natural resource," Cuomo said.

Officials with the city's water board said the discharge was part of routine maintenance of one of its basins. The murky water had dissipated by Sunday morning.

Cuomo said the state Department of Environmental Conservation was not notified in advance of Saturday's release. He noted state water quality standards that say such "discharges cannot adversely affect the Niagara River's color, odor or cause a substantial visible contrast to natural conditions."

The DEC is investigating. Violations carry a maximum penalty of $37,500 each.