Overflow brings another cloudy discharge to Niagara Falls

Oct 9, 2017

Yet another discharge of cloudy black water was seen in the Niagara River Monday morning, just below Niagara Falls.

A chlorine smell could also be detected by observers at the Falls. According to the National Weather Service, more than 1.2 inches of rain fell at the Niagara Falls International Airport weather station as of about 8 a.m.

In a statement, the Niagara Falls Water Board said it immediately reported the discharge to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as required. The board also blamed its outdated treatment facility for the water dump, noting that it cannot handle the added capacity resulting from heavy rains.

"Such overflows happen because the existing wastewater treatment facility has a treatment capacity of approximately 60 million gallons over the course of a day. This capacity limit is impacted by the outdated carbon filter system through which flows must pass for treatment. Most modern wastewater plants treating waste streams similar to what the NFWB plant treats use a biological – not chemical/physical with carbon-filtration – treatment process. NFWB’s system lacks substantial storage facilities, so when flows exceed the plant’s treatment capacity due to heavy rain, a discharge or overflow cannot be avoided," the statement reads.

The first of several black water discharges at Niagara Falls gained international attention when it occurred on July 29. There were three discharges last Wednesday, which was also a rainy day.

The water board says it is examining long-term solutions to the overflow issues, including converting the treatment plant to biological technology and constructing additional storage capacity. It says "extensive efforts" are underway to identify short and long-term solutions to mitigate existing constraints.