© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Buffalo 'cheating' on water quality, report says

A new report says Buffalo is one of 33 US cities that cheat when measuring lead in drinking water. The Guardian newspaper, out of Britain, reports water testing techniques are being used in 33 cities across 17 states that might conceal lead levels. This includes running water for a while before sampling, removing aerators on faucets before testing and filling sample bottles slowly.

Buffalo officials say the city's water is extremely safe and uses a corrosion inhibitor to prevent the release of lead in old pipes. Buffalo's water department released the following statement:

"Buffalo Water has been in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule since the inception of the program in the 1990s, We believe our drinking water is extremely safe. The source is non-corrosive and we have additional projections in place that include a corrosion inhibitor. We continue to meet the Health Department standards for our Lead and Copper testing. As always, if you are concerned about elevated levels of lead in your home's plumbing, please contact the City's 311 Call and Resolution Center to have your water tested by Buffalo Water."

Credit Buffalo Water

University at Buffalo Chemistry Professor Joseph Gardella - who was recently named a New York State Environmental Champion by the Environmental Protection Agency- says sampling techniques are key. "Sampling techniques are a critical part of doing chemical analysis and, as an analytical chemist who's done environmental analytic chemistry for 40 years, it's really critical to have appropriate sampling methodologies and, when you are in a regulatory environment, follow the regulatory guidance," he says.

Gardella says if the sampling produces bad information, that is bad for those higher in the governmental chain because they will be making decisions based on bad information.

The EPA has warned a number of water systems about using bad sampling techniques. Officials in Flint, MI have been charged criminally for allegedly distorting lead results by manipulating sampling.

Buffalo Water has a system to have residential water tested, specifying the resident should not do any of the things The Guardian says Buffalo and the other cities do.

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.
Related Content