Buffalo, New York-Area Congressman Asks EPA to Investigate Niagara Falls Sewer Discharge

United States Congressman Brian Higgins Questions if Actions Taken Violate U.S. Clean Water Act or US/Canada International Water Agreements

News from the Buffalo, New York office of Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted August 3rd on Niagara At Large

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins representing Buffalo-Niagara, New York area

(A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper – Buffalo area Congressman Brian Higgins is the latest elected representative calling for a full investigation into a massive discharge of waste to the Niagara River from the Niagara Falls, New York waste water treatment plant this past July 29th – a discharge witnessed by countless thousands of tourists there to see the American and Horseshow Falls.

Calls for an investigation have also come from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to his own state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and from Niagara Falls, Ontario MPP and New Democratic Party representative Wayne Gates who is urging Ontario’s Ministry of Environment to investigate the incident.

The only response from the Ontario Ministry of Environment as of this posting – “It’s not our place to get involved.” – a response Wayne Gates said he found disturbing and irresponsible.)

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is writing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for a full investigation into actions which led to a substantial sewer discharge into the Niagara River on July 29, 2017. 

Higgins expressed support for the ongoing review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) but questioned whether the incident may have violated national and international regulations.

“While I have full confidence in the DEC, given the importance of this water body and its international nature, I write today to request that the EPA investigate this discharge as well to determine if there was any violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (as amended), its associated regulations, or the United States’ obligations under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 or subsequent international agreements,” wrote Higgins.

Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force added, “This discharge is disconcerting not only because of the importance of the tourism industry in Niagara Falls, but also because of the significant and unique ecosystem in the Niagara Gorge downstream of the Falls.  The preservation of vital resources like these are among the agency’s most important responsibilities.

A sky view of the July 29th inky discharge, along the Niagara Falls, New York side of the river near the Maid of Mist docks, and just downstream from the American and Horseshoe Falls

Here is the full text of Congressman Higgin’s letter to the U. Environmental Protection Agency representatives Tinka Hyde and Catherine McCabe, acting Regional Administrator for EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office

Re: Federal investigation into Niagara Falls sewer discharge

 Dear Ms. Hyde and McCabe:

 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is no doubt aware of the substantial sewer discharge immediately below Niagara Falls on July 29 which significantly degraded water quality in the lower Niagara River.  This morning, the Buffalo News quoted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as indicating that “this discharge clearly violated water quality standards which prohibit discharges that adversely affect color, cause odor or cause a substantial visible contrast to natural conditions.”

 I understand that some regulatory authority is delegated by the federal government to the states, and in this case by the EPA to the DEC.  While I have full confidence in the DEC, given the importance of this water body and its international nature, I write today to request that the EPA investigate this discharge as well to determine if there was any violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (as amended), its associated regulations, or the United States’ obligations under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 or subsequent international agreements.

 This discharge is disconcerting not only because of the importance of the tourism industry in Niagara Falls, but also because of the significant and unique ecosystem in the Niagara Gorge downstream of the Falls.  The preservation of vital resources like these are among the agency’s most important responsibilities.  

 Thank you very much for your leadership in the protection of the environmental resources of the United States.

 Sincerely, Brian Higgins Member of Congress

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

Advertisements

One response to “Buffalo, New York-Area Congressman Asks EPA to Investigate Niagara Falls Sewer Discharge

  1. The only response from the Ontario Ministry of Environment as of this posting – “It’s not our place to get involved.” – a response Wayne Gates said he found disturbing and irresponsible.) This Seems to be the protocol adopted by all Ministries of this Ontario Government as they completely ignored requests from several Niagara area Municipalituies for a Forensic Audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. .. The NPCA has continued to run rough shod over any opposition to their dictates…. Resulting in Law Suits, the threatening of Niagara Region citizens and the actually Censuring of one of their own Board Members (Bill Hodgson) to a point where he tendered his resignation in total Disgust. All of this could have been avoided if we had a government acting responsively to expressions of concern from citizens and municipalities about the NPCA.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s