Press Pass: Seeking a clear direction on water quality

Apr 5, 2016

While some strides have been made--- notably the cleanup of the Buffalo River--- more needs to be done to improve the area's water quality. "Just look at our beaches," noted Dan Telvock of the Investigative Post. He shared some of his findings during WBFO's Press Pass.

Parts of the Scajaquada Creek offer glaring examples of the region's struggles in keeping its waterways clear.
Credit Dan Telvock, Investigative Post

"Woodlawn Beach is a perfect example," said Telvock of the Lake Erie beach that officials frequently close due to health concerns.  "Want to know why it closes? Sewer overflows."

Of the 2,700 sewer overflows reported over a two-year period in New York State, 58 percent occurred in Erie and Niagara Counties.

"That (Woodlawn) beach should have never opened," Telvock said. "You're not supposed to open a beach when you know that it has a serious bacteria source problem."

According to Telvock, Erie County is in the early stages of constructing a new system that will ease sewer overflows in the area around Woodlawn Beach.

"I love water. I love to swim. I would not go swimming at Woodlawn Beach. I don't care if it's open or not. I would not go swimming there. I know too much."

During a recent visit to Western New York, Senator Charles Schumer warned of possible cuts to funding a portion of the Clean Water Act. The funding cuts could be bad news for Western New York where aging storm and sewer infrastructure contributes to water quality issues. 

"Erie County and Niagara County, those two counties alone, the needs are about $2 billion (for infrastructure improvements)," Telvock said.   

"Statewide, it's over $30 billion."