Joggers whisk by in pairs or with pets along the path at the Delaware Park Marcy Casino. It’s a typical late spring morning with trees budding, water fowl floating in Hoyt Lake and the sour aroma of the Scajaquada Creek wafting in the air.
Peering into the creek you can see a thick brown layer of muck resting on its surface. It ripples slightly as aquatic creatures move beneath in an attempt to provide proof of life.
“We’re also seeing some litter. I see an open pop bottle and some styrofoam plates, some packaging, some bubble wrap,” said Susan Kornacki, the communications and development manager at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “Those are probably different things that were discarded or blew out of garbage cans and have made their way downstream, unfortunately, to this spot on the Scajaquada Creek. We can smell it too. It’s a pretty smelly spot.”
To help clean this mess, as well as others like it, the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers is hosting its annual Spring Shoreline Sweep event this weekend. The annual event attracts nearly two thousand volunteers and takes place at 40 sites in both Erie and Niagara counties.
Riverkeeper officials say that a variety of issues contribute to the pollution of the Scajaquada Creek and areas like it.
“A lot of pollutants from probably further upstream, combined sewer overflow issues and the issues with how we process our waste water in communities upstream along the Scajaquada Creek do eventually release into the water and float down here,” said Kornacki.
Pollution of the creek has been an issue since the early 1920s, says Jarrett Steffen Riverkeepers’ community engagement manager.
“The creek was so polluted that the residents wanted to essentially put the creek underground. The creek actually runs all the way under through the east side and it comes out kind of near the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga,” he said “So, this is a historic thing that has happened that we’re trying to fix. “
Some of the other sites slated for cleaning include: Amherst State Park, UB bike path, Ellicott Island Park, Cazenovia Park, Erie Basin Marina, Houghton Park, Hoyt Lake, LaSalle Park, Unity Island, Ohio Street Boat Launch, Red Jacket Riverfront Park, Riverside Park and the Scajaquada Creek.