Solutions Report

WATERKEEPER addresses sewer overflows with Green Infrastructure Solutions Plan

Buffalo is blessed with an abundance of fresh water – one of the world’s most important resources.

Unfortunately, two of Buffalo’s principal waterways have suffered such substantial degradation that they were identified as Areas of Concern by the International Joint Commission that governs the Great Lakes. In addition to legacy contamination and habitat loss issues, the Niagara and Buffalo Rivers face ongoing pollution from both sewage and stormwater outfalls. Raw sewage from combined sewer overflows creates a health risk for those who might come into contact with our local waterways while also reducing oxygen levels for fish. Other communities with sewer overflow issues from combined sewer overflow systems — including Philadelphia, Onondaga County and Kansas City — have chosen to utilize “green infrastructure” to solve a significant portion of these problems.

Green Infrastructure Sewer Solutions Plan prepared by Buffalo Niagara WATERKEEPER in outlines how this solution would eliminate stormwater flow into the combined sewer system, thereby effectively preventing contaminated urban stormwater runoff from flowing directly into local waterways while also reducing Buffalo Sewer Authority project costs. Moreover, by including green infrastructure measures, the project would also provide the benefit of adding desirable complete street components that include bike and pedestrian enhancements, neighborhood beautification and traffic calming benefits.

Please review our Green Infrastructure Solutions to Buffalo’s Combined Sewer Overflow Problem for information about Waterkeeper’s position on green infrastructure: Green Infrastructure Sewer Solutions Plan


Buffalo Sewer Authority and WATERKEEPER Downspout Disconnection Program

Buffalo Sewer Authority and its partners are studying the impact of the downspout disconnection technique in the First Ward to see if it works to reduce water pollution.  Special flow meters have been placed in the sewer to measure how much flow is reduced if we disconnect the downspouts. Partners in the program included Buffalo Sewer Authority, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Old First Ward Community Center, the Father Belle Center/Americorps, and Malcom Pirnie.  This study is called the Buffalo Sewer Authority Downspout Disconnection Pilot Program (D2P2). For more information, click here.

For an interactive GIS map of Erie and Niagara County sewer outfalls, the WNY Stormwater Coalition Outfall Locator, click here.

New Hampshire has published a Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management. This guide helps homeowner’s better managed stormwater on their properties by providing step-by-step instructions to install do-it-yourself stormwater treatment practices. Until we have a guide developed specifically for Buffalo, please use this as a resource. Assuming this test project is successful, we can expect to see more locally-created documents of this type in the future.