Updated Wednesday, Aug. 3
The recent black, odorous wastewater discharge near the base of Niagara Falls violated New York regulations, a state official says. But it's unclear whether any fines will result.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation, which is investigating the weekend discharge, says it's unlikely to have any long term impacts on human or environmental health.
Department spokesperson Sean Mahar said the discharge is "clearly" a violation of water quality standards, because it adversely effects the color, order and natural conditions of the water.
"The violation of the state’s water quality standards are subject to fines, but this investigation is very much ongoing right now so it’s hard to say exactly what any enforcement actions could be levied against the water treatment board," Mahar said.
The Niagara County Legislature along with Canadian officials are also pushing for an investigation into the matter. Niagara Falls Provincial Parliament Member Wayne Gates says the issue affects tourism on both side of the border.
On Wednesday, Rep. Brian Higgins asked the EPA to investigate whether the discharge violated the Clean Water Act or other federal rules.
The state agency is reviewing the operations and permit conditions of the Niagara Falls Water Board, which oversees the city's water system.
The board apologized for the foul, odorous discharge and said in a news release that it was all a part of routine maintenance. The discoloration and odor were gone by Sunday.
Water samples were taken by the treatment plant operators, to see if discharge limits were exceeded. Mahar says the results of those tests aren't yet available.