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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 31st, 2017

Contact: Samuel Hakim
Communications Coordinator
(716) 852-7483 ex. 38
Cell: 516-255-7823
shakim@bnriverkeeper.org

Organization leverages its global leadership to call for regionally coordinated strategy for clean water.

Inaugural “Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend” planned for May 2018, will include community-wide water based events and activities.

BUFFALO, NY – August 31st, 2017 marks a historic day for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. With the backdrop of the convergence of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie, the organization officially made the transition to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. To formalize this transition, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper presented a State of Our Waters report to a large gathering including elected officials, community and business leaders, project partners, volunteers and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper supporters. The State of Our Waters report presents an overview of the health of Western New York waterways, highlights recent success and improvements, as well as identifies continuing and emerging challenges. The organization also presented a strategy for a regional approach to protect, restore and connect people to clean water, culminating with the announcement of an inaugural Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend, to be held annually on the third weekend in May, beginning in 2018.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka stated: “Water connects all of us, and it will take all of us to protect our water. For nearly three decades, our work and partnerships have resulted in tangible water quality improvements, new water-based recreational opportunities, and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity. However, the State of Our Waters is also a reminder that we cannot become complacent about our fresh water. By transitioning to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper we are both increasing our own commitment to clean water and inspiring our community to lead new efforts in restoring and maintaining the health of these critical resources. With the establishment of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend in 2018, we will begin to integrate clean water priorities into our social, cultural and economic sectors throughout Western New York”.

The State of Our Waters report provides a user-friendly snapshot of the current status of the health of the region’s water. It identifies historical turning points and major work accomplished to date, presents ongoing and emerging challenges, and recommends a regional action agenda to prioritize clean water investments and activities. The summary report is based on the interpretation of decades of organizational research, dozens of local, state and federal government studies, and peer-reviewed scientific analysis from academic institutions.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is using the findings of this report to guide its plans to engage the public, private, and non-profit sectors to mobilize and collaborate on solutions and projects in many area waterways.

Numerous local leaders joined the event, who offered their perspective on the State of Our Waters, and their support of the organization’s ongoing leadership.

The State of Our Waters report confirms the great progress made under the leadership of an organization respected across the county and around the world for their effective approach to improving and protecting Western New York waterways, but it is also a reminder about the great deal of work still ahead of us,” said Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Caucus and a founding member of the Friends of the Buffalo River, which preceded Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.  “The new Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper name acknowledges the organization’s evolving role as the environmental and economic stewards of yesterday and tomorrow.  The incredible work they do has a lasting impact in this community benefiting residents for generations to come and we are truly fortunate and grateful for their continuing contributions to the Buffalo-Niagara region.”

County Executive Mark Poloncarz stated: “Fresh water is a critical and irreplaceable part of our identity in Erie County, with the waters of Lake Erie and its watershed adding to our quality of life and powering a significant portion of our regional economy. We must be vigilant and forward-leaning in protecting these assets from constant threats of pollution and other degradations, and we must always strengthen the partnerships necessary for effective action. The State of Our Waters report is a good starting point for all to work from and raises awareness of the role we all have to play in protecting these important assets.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown stated: “The City of Buffalo is pleased to congratulate Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on this important organizational milestone. The City, including the Buffalo River, Scajaquada Creek and Niagara River have benefited from a strong partnership with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper since their early beginnings as the Friends of the Buffalo River in 1989. Together with our state and federal partners, and thousands of dedicated community members, our collective efforts have cleaned up legacy Buffalo River and Scajaquada Creek sediment, are reducing combined sewer overflows, and improving habitat City wide. We thank Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for all of their work in advocating for our region’s Great Lakes water and look forward to celebrating “Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend” in the City of Buffalo for many years to come.”

 “Western New York’s waterways have undergone a startling transformation and it has not gone unnoticed. From the Buffalo River to Hyde Park Lake, the change is significant and the world is watching,” said Mayor Paul A. Dyster, Niagara Falls. “Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, under the leadership of Jill Jedlicka, is on the cutting edge of riverway and greenway issues and serves as a shining example of what can and needs to be achieved in order to ensure the future of our Great Lakes and beyond. As Mayor and Chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, I am proud to congratulate Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on their hard work and thank you for your continued dedication to our environment.”

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and partners also announced the establishment of an annual celebration to be held the third weekend of May as “Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend”. The inaugural event to be held May 18-20, 2018 will include community-wide waterway cleanups and shoreline restoration efforts, citizen science activities, organized water tours, numerous family activities on various waterfronts, and many more water-themed announcements to come over the next few months. All events and activities will be organized around the shared vision of clean and accessible water for everyone. This inaugural event is also the start of a new partnership with D’Youville College, who is a presenting sponsor for the event.

D’Youville President Dr. Lorrie Clemo stated:  “D’Youville College has been a main anchor of the West Side of Buffalo, founding its roots 109 years ago adjacent to the Niagara River.  We are thrilled to partner with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper not only with this inaugural event, but through numerous points of collaboration in our health, science and pharmacy programs. We feel strongly that community engagement on water issues starts with our own students and faculty, who can bring tremendous young energy and academic expertise to the region’s water challenges. D’Youville looks forward to expanding our efforts during Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend through our Prescription Drug Take-Back program, which not only benefits our surrounding neighborhoods, but helps to keep pharmaceuticals out of our waterways.”

The State of Our Waters report can be accessed on Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s website at BNWaterkeeper.org. To track progress on the numerous ongoing water restoration projects throughout Western New York, and to learn more about the inaugural Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Weekend, follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter @bnwaterkeeper.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore our water and surrounding ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. We PROTECT clean water. We RESTORE the health of ecosystems. We CONNECT people to the water. We INSPIRE economic growth and community engagement.

For more information about Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, please visit BNWaterkeeper.org or contact Samuel Hakim, Communications Coordinator, at (716) 852-7483 ext. 38 or shakim@bnwaterkeeper.org.

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