Once declared “Biologically Dead”, the Buffalo River is Making  an Amazing  Comeback, and the Cleanup Continues

“There is a direct correlation between the health of our water and the health of our economy.” – U.S. Congressman for Buffalo, Western New York area Brian Higgins

Congressman Higgins & U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Announce Buffalo River Dredging Work

A News Release from the Buffalo office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted May 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski recently announced the commencement of a multi-phase project to remove sediment from the Buffalo River.


“There is a direct correlation between the health of our water and the health of our economy,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force.

“Projects like this which explore new ways to maintain and improve the environmental status of the Buffalo River play an essential role in the growing momentum along Western New York’s waterfront. We are fortunate to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as great partners in the stewardship of the Great Lakes and Western New York waterways.” 

“Management of dredged sediment this year in Buffalo Harbor will serve as a model for future projects seeking to beneficially use dredged material in the Great Lakes Region.  It is a testament to the hard work of our many partners and the strong support of our elected officials,” said Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander. 

“Beginning with the Buffalo River environmental dredging in 2013, the quality of dredged sediment has improved to the point where it can now be used for ecosystem restoration within the Niagara River area of concern, and for a healthier Lake Erie.”

Buffalo, New York Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announces more cleanup work to be done, as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski joins him along Buffalo River shores

Work on the first phase of Buffalo River dredging is scheduled to begin on May 7th, upstream of the South Park Bridge, and continue for approximately 30 days.  During this phase, between 45,000 to 65,000 cubic yards will be relocated to Unity Island to facilitate a unique aquatic habitat and invasive species management project currently underway. 

The Unity Island Aquatic and Riparian Invasive Species Management and Habitat Restoration Project, funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), is a unique demonstration project focused on the removal of aquatic invasive species from Unity Island.

Phase II is scheduled to begin mid-June in the lower portion of the Buffalo River and continue through early July.  Dredged sediment during this phase will be placed in Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) #4 adjacent to the former Bethlehem Steel site.

The $1.6 million project, conducted by Luedtke Engineering, will remove in total between 115,000 and 135,000 cubic yards of sediment from the federal channel.  The harbor requires dredging approximately every two years to maintain navigable waters.  Shipments passing through the harbor generate approximately $904 million in annual business revenue and support about 5,500 direct and indirect jobs. 

Dredging decades of toxic contaminants from the bottom of the Buffalo River.

Since 2005 substantial investments have been made in and around the Buffalo River – a waterway once declared biologically dead – to clean up the water and restore the natural habitat.  In total, $72.8 million in federal funding and an additional $26.9 million provided through the federal relicensing settlement with the New York Power Authority has quite literally brought the river back to life.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District is responsible for the planning, construction and operation of water projects to maintain navigation across a 38,000 square mile area that includes Lakes Erie and Ontario.

A Postscript from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

Industrial activity took a heavy toll on the Buffalo River through much of the last century.

When I was covering Great Lakes environmental issues for a daily newspaper in Niagara, Ontario in the 1980s and 90s, the Buffalo River was earmarked by the International Joint Commission and environment agencies on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border as an area of serious concern in the Great Lakes basin.

During that times, I joined biologist John Hickey and scientists for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, who were capturing fish from the Buffalo River, which flows to the upper Niagara River, for testing. More than half the fish were covered with visible tumors and burn marks from poisons they were exposed to in the river’s sediment.

The Buffalo River has improved significantly since then – a success story that is a tribute to many years of government bodies and citizen groups working together for a healthier environment for all.

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

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For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national 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


One response to “Once declared “Biologically Dead”, the Buffalo River is Making  an Amazing  Comeback, and the Cleanup Continues

  1. Gary Screaton Page

    My comment is short, and I think to the point. That the cleanup continues is great. What’s unfortunate is that the polluters are not paying for the cleanup, we taxpayers are. How is it we have let so many corporations scar our landscape in so many ways and rarely if ever hold them accountable. Just consider who polluted the Hamilton Harbor, and who is pay to clean it up.
    We have the same problem with packaging and retail products. Manufacturers make these polluters but few provinces hold them accountable for recycling the waste that results. In this regard, apparently Ontario expects the least from those who create the waste in the first place.


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