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City sewers receiving long overdue upgrades

WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to end overflows from the sewer system when there is heavy precipitation is moving ahead.

Sewer Authority General Manager Dave Comerford tells WBFO the plan should cost a little more than $400 million over 20 years. He said this year's actual construction should run between $10-15 million. Two larger projects are in design.

The authority has overflow valves across the city which pop open and flow into open water when the system overloads. Comerford says the agency is testing projects already done.
"We still have to do some post-construction monitoring, actually putting in a device to measure the flows, over a year's time to get a representative body of knowledge, rainfall, etc., that would check the efficacy of the particular project," Comerford said.

Sewer overflows are a serious contaminant to open water, with a couple along the suburban Lake Erie shore leading to beach closings after heavy rains.

In the city there are serious problems with flows into Scajaquada Creek. That's why one of the big projects will be a 12-foot diameter tunnel from the creek toward the treatment plant on Bird Island and another project there to allow more waste to be treated.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.