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Sewer Authority to invest $380 million for system upgrades


A legal order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should help improve local water quality. The Buffalo Sewer Authority is planning to reduce sewer and stormwater runoff into the Niagara River and its tributaries.After years of back and forth, the EPA has approved the Buffalo Sewer Authority's improvement plan. The deal is designed to bring the Sewer Authority in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

EPA Regional Director Judith Enck says every year heavy rains and heavy snow melt overwhelm the system causing nearly two billion gallons of raw sewage to flow directly into the Niagara River.

"That's a lot of sewage overflow into our treasured water bodies. We know that the impact of the sewage is that degrades water quality and it has a direct effect on the quality of people's lives," Enck said on a media conference call Monday.  

Enck says Buffalo has about 58 combined sewer overflow outlets. She says under the comprehensive capital plan, the BSA will invest $380 million over 20 years on upgrades to its system, including the Bird Island Treatment plant, and installing green infrastructure.

"Some examples of green infrastructure include rain gardens, permeable surfaces so the water will percolate through the surface and not just wash off the surface. Green roofs are great way to capture rain water and snow melt," Enck said. 

Some of the work is already underway and Enck says the formal agreement will make a big difference in improving water quality in the Buffalo area.