U.S. EPA RAP Liaison:
Niagara Frontier Program Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2
New York, NY 10007-1866
State RAP Contacts:
NYSDEC, Division of Water, RAP Coordinator
Bureau of Water Assessment and Management
Albany, NY 12233-3508
Region 9 Water Manager
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203-2999
Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee:
Remedial Advisory Committee
456 Brantwood Dr.
Amherst, NY 14226
Jill Spisiak Jedlicka
Buffalo River RAP Coordinator
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
617 Main Street, M108
Buffalo, NY 14202
Julie Barrett O'Neill (info@BNRiverkeeper.org)
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
617 Main Street, M108
Buffalo, NY 14203
- Buffalo Ornithological Society
- Buffalo Sewer Authority
- Buffalo State College- Great Lakes Center
- City of Buffalo
- County of Erie
- Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
- Erie County Health Department
- Erie County Department of Promotion and Tourism
- Erie County Department of Environment & Planning
- Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs
- Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Erie County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
- Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FL-LOWPA)
- Great Lakes Research Consortium
- Great Lakes United
- Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce
- Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP)
- Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP)
- Lake Ontario Sportfishing Promotional Council
- New York Sea Grant
- New York State Canal Corporation
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- New York State Department of State
- New York State Health Department
- Old First Ward Community Association
- PVS Chemicals, Inc.
- Seneca Babcock Community Association
- Sierra Club
- State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo- Great Lakes Program
- State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo- School of Law
- Tonawanda Band of Senecas
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Buffalo District
- USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
- U.S. EPA, Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
- U.S. EPA, Region 2 - New York City
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Valley Community Association
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
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The Buffalo River Area of Concern (AOC) is located in the City of Buffalo in Western New York State. The river flows from the east and discharges into Lake Erie near the head of the Niagara River. The Buffalo River Area of Concern “impact area” extends from the mouth of the Buffalo River to the farthest point upstream at which the backwater condition exists during Lake Erie’s highest monthly average lake level. The impact area is 6.2 miles (10 km) in length. The AOC also includes the entire 1.4-mile (2.3 km) stretch of the City Ship Canal, located adjacent to the river. The AOC impact area is characterized by historically heavy industrial development in the midst of a large municipality. There are three major streams in the watershed that create the AOC “source area”: Cayuga Creek, Buffalo Creek and Cazenovia Creek. Land use in the tributary watersheds primarily consists of residential communities, farmland, wooded areas and parks interspersed with commercial land use. The total drainage area for the Buffalo River watershed is approximately 440 square miles.
Today, industrial development continues to be an important use of the lower river although some riverbank areas can be seen in various stages of abandonment. Presently, the major sources of contamination in the AOC are contaminated bottom sediments and non-point source pollution throughout the watershed. There are currently 33 CSO outfalls within the watershed that discharge into the Buffalo River and three connections to the Buffalo sewer system from outside sewer districts that also overflow into the river during storm events. There are 45 inactive hazardous waste sites within the AOC and contaminants of concern include PCBs, PAHs, metals, and industrial organics. Water quality concerns include dissolved oxygen levels, turbidity, and bacterial contamination. Potential habitat areas (riparian and aquatic) are limited due to contamination, development and an altered shoreline. Invasive plant and animal species threaten diversity and quality of habitat. Fish consumption advisories exist for the AOC and recent research indicates an average of 34% DELT anomalies in fish (ranging from a low of 14% for pumpkinseed to an extremely high 87% for brown bullhead). Benthic organisms’ deformity rates range from 20-25%.
In 1989, a combined Stage 1 and Stage 2 Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was prepared for the Buffalo River Area of Concern. (EPA specifies a three-stage RAP structure; Stage 1- Problem Identification and Planning, Stage 2- Goals, Options and Recommended Actions, and Stage 3- Restoration of Beneficial Uses.) Following the development of the Remedial Action Plan, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in its role as RAP Coordinator, tracked progress within the Buffalo River AOC through six Status Reports (1989-2002).
In October 2003, the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) selected Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers to coordinate the implementation of the Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan. Effective July 2005, the Friends changed names to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
With the assistance of the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC), NYSDEC and other governmental and non- governmental organizations, Riverkeeper has begun to make significant progress towards delisting. Since taking over coordination of the RAP, Riverkeeper has re-engaged the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC), conducted a full re-assessment of all 14 beneficial uses, developed delisting criteria/restoration targets for five of the six known Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), tracked Buffalo River research and ongoing projects, identified data gaps and needed projects related to BUI assessment, and prepared the 2005 Buffalo River RAP Status Report.
Remedial activity efforts have been focused in six major areas: stream water quality monitoring, river bottom sediments, inactive hazardous waste sites, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities, combined sewer overflows, and fish and wildlife habitat. RAP strategies and remedial activities are updated in the most current Buffalo River RAP Status Report dated October 2005. Current remedial activities include the evaluation of contaminated sediment remedial options through a feasibility study conducted by US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with NYSDEC and Riverkeeper. A 2-year assessment project of potential aquatic habitat restoration sites within the AOC was completed in September 2005. Five habitat improvement projects have been developed by Erie County in cooperation with the City of Buffalo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USACE, and NYSDEC with funding provided through U.S. EPA. The Buffalo Sewer Authority completed a draft Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan in early 2005. Remedial Investigations, Feasibility Studies or Interim Remedial Measures have been completed at 42 of the 45 inactive hazardous waste sites. The remaining three are undergoing restoration planning or entered voluntary clean-up agreements.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Fish tumors or other deformities
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
Five other beneficial uses need further assessment to determine their status:
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae (further assessment needed)
- Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor (further assessment needed)
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations (further assessment needed)
- Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems (further assessment needed)
- Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations (further assessment needed)
In 1989, the Buffalo River RAP determined five of the fourteen Beneficial Uses to be “impaired”, with another three listed as “likely impaired.” In the fifteen years since the original RAP was written, there has been a significant amount of research and restoration within the Buffalo River AOC. However, this work has not yet translated into the delisting of any impairments. In fact, after a complete review of all 14 Beneficial Uses in 2004, one more impairment has been added to the list- “degradation of aesthetics”. This does not necessarily reflect lack of progress in improving the river’s health, but rather that progress has not reached a level that would allow an impairment to be delisted or considered restored.
The Buffalo River and its sediments have been impaired by past industrial and municipal discharges and disposal of waste. The known causes of beneficial use impairments include chemical contamination and physical disturbances to the river bottom and shoreline, as well as bacterial loading and other water quality parameters (i.e. dissolved oxygen, turbidity, etc.) Contamination in the AOC comes from the sediments, inactive hazardous waste sites, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and other point and nonpoint sources of pollution in the watershed.
The 2005 Buffalo River Status Report now identifies six Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) based on the fourteen possible International Joint Commission (IJC) beneficial uses. Three beneficial uses are listed as “likely impaired” and two are “unknown”. These “undetermined” five uses will be fully assessed by the RAC and Riverkeeper during the 2006-08 fiscal years.
Fishing and survival of aquatic life within the AOC have been impaired by PCBs, chlordane and PAHs. Fish and wildlife habitat have been degraded by navigational dredging of the river and by bulkheading and other alterations of the shoreline. Fish tumors have been observed in the Buffalo River and are believed to be caused by PAHs in the sediments. Research and analysis of fish health and population completed in August 2005 indicate that fish diversity and health has not improved over the last decade based on the data obtained in 2003-04, and compared to data available from fish surveys of the early 1990s. Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption are primarily due to PCB and chlordane contamination. These consumption restrictions are part of the lakewide advisories for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Based on measurements of benthic macroinvertebrates and toxicity tests conducted in a study in 1982 and on the presence of contaminated sediment in selected areas, certain sediments were evaluated as causing a “degradation of benthos” use impairment in the AOC. Research of benthic macroinvertebrates completed in August 2005 indicates that much of the Buffalo River continues to have low diversity and be dominated by pollution-tolerant species. These results indicate that there has been no improvement in the health or populations of the benthos since the last benthic studies conducted in 1992-93.
The presence of metals and cyanides in the sediment prevent open lake disposal of bottom sediments dredged from the river, and therefore result in a “restrictions on dredging” use impairment. The US Army Corps of Engineers-Buffalo District currently uses a confined disposal facility to dispose of dredge materials. The loss of fish and wildlife habitat, due to physical disturbances such as annual river maintenance dredging and bulkheading, has been dramatic.
Degradation of fish and wildlife populations, the tainting of fish and wildlife flavor, eutrophication or presence of microcystins, bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems, and phytoplankton populations will be investigated during FY2006-08.
For further information and details on all of the BUIs, see a corresponding Buffalo River Beneficial Use Impairments (PDF 98Kb, 4 pages) document and the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) documents listed in the RAP Development and Status section below.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s first management goal as Buffalo River RAP Coordinator has been the creation of clear delisting criteria and restoration targets for the six recognized Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs). Riverkeeper developed the criteria after a re-evaluation of the status of the BUIs by the Remedial Advisory Committee through three Technical Advisory Groups (Sediments, Water Quality, and Habitat & Environs). Local, regional and statewide experts from relevant scientific fields also contributed to development of the criteria. The suggested criteria have been shared with the public at several Buffalo River forums, offering community residents an opportunity to participate in the RAP process. A table outlines delisting criteria/restoration targets (PDF 61Kb, 2 pages) for the six known BUIs in the Buffalo River AOC.
RAP Development and Status
By investing in local coordination of the Buffalo River RAP, U.S. EPA has helped River stakeholders regain the momentum that was lost in the mid 1990’s. A newly organized Remedial Advisory Committee helped to re-evaluate the historical and ongoing problems of the Buffalo River, while at the same time setting goals and priorities for the short and long term. During the last two years, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has helped make major strides for contaminated sediment remediation, habitat restoration and riparian protection. In addition, the community and stakeholders are once again re-focusing their attention and resources on efforts such as non-point source pollution, stormwater/CSOs, and public access. The increased visibility of the Buffalo River RAP and publicity and media attention that the river has recently received continues to generate local and regional public support and knowledge on the need to restore the AOC.
Significant RAP Milestones
- November 2005: Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan: 2005 Status Report [PDF 3.79Mb, 121 pages) completed. (Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper)
- October 2005: Assessment of Potential Aquatic Habitat Restoration Sites in the Buffalo River Area of Concern [PDF 47.2Mb, 130 pages] completed. (Riverkeeper, Buffalo State College, Youngstown University)
- August-September 2005: Comprehensive sediment sampling conducted. (NYSDEC and U.S. EPA)
- June 2005: Buffalo River AOC Report Card [PDF 39.0Mb, 2 pages] > released. (Riverkeeper)
- April 2005: Buffalo River Environmental Dredging Feasibility Study agreement signed between U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Riverkeeper.
- 2003: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper (formerly Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers) identified as Buffalo River RAP Coordinator.
- 2002: Buffalo River RAP Status Report [PDF 536Kb 36 pages] completed. (NYSDEC)
- 1999: RAP Status Report completed. (NYSDEC)
- 1995: Buffalo River RAP Status Report [PDF 581Kb 41 pages] completed. (NYSDEC)
- 1991: Buffalo River RAP Annual Report [PDF 630Kb 44 pages] completed. (NYSDEC)
- 1989: Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan [PDF 5160Kb 286 pages] published. (Combined Stage 1 and Stage 2)
The original Buffalo River RAP (1989) and Status Report update documents presented a remedial strategy that included a variety of remedial measures: stream water quality monitoring, contaminated bottom sediment assessment and action determination, inactive hazardous waste site remediation, point and nonpoint source discharge evaluation, combined sewer overflow assessment, remedial measure implementation monitoring, fish and wildlife beneficial use restoration, and habitat protection.
The 2005 Status Report incorporates new research and data about the AOC that was not available when the original RAP was written. It also includes a more detailed interpretation of AOC status as well as newly-recommended actions by the Remedial Advisory Committee. A complete re-write of the Buffalo River RAP is planned for 2006 and will reflect the updated status of the river and will detail the updated remedial strategy.
Recent progress and achievements
- Water Quality
Rotating Intensive Basin Studies (RIBS)
In 2000 and 2001, the rivers and streams of the Niagara River-Lake Erie basin were sampled as part of the Rotating Integrated Basin Studies portion (RIBS) of the Statewide Waters Monitoring Program. The RIBS reported was released in mid-2005.
The Buffalo River is one of three “permanent sites” in Region 9 sampled every year. The sampling of the Buffalo River takes place at the Ohio Street Bridge. Thirteen additional sites within the Buffalo River watershed were also sampled in 2001. The basin is next scheduled for monitoring during 2006.
The RIBS report is a quantitative summary of the concentrations of chemical and physical constituents in the water column, sediments and biological tissue. These concentrations are compared to assessment criteria to determine if designated uses of the waterbody are supported. The water quality data and information generated by the RIBS program are used to support many monitoring and assessment functions within NYSDEC Division of Water, including the development of the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbody List.
The 2005 RIBS Assessment Summary for the Buffalo River site is as follows:
- Water quality parameters of concern are iron, ammonia, water temperature and dissolved oxygen
- Macroinvertebrate sampling (in the water column) indicated a slightly impacted condition. The source of impacts is still considered to be from municipal and industrial inputs.
- There continues to be a fish advisory for carp (eat none) due to PCB contamination.
- No significant mortality or reproductive impairment of the Water Flea (Ceriodaphnia dubia) was detected at this site.
- No sediments were collected.
Buffalo Sewer Authority Long Term Control Plan
In accordance with the U.S. EPA’s 1994 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Policy, a Draft CSO Long Term Control Plan has been prepared by the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) and is presently being reviewed by NYSDEC. The plan was completed in three stages: system mapping, data collection and model development; district specific planning; and system-wide long term control plan development. As of June 2005, BSA has invested nearly $8 million in the plan’s development. It is expected that the plan will be publicly released by early 2006.
Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites
As of 2005, the following summarizes the progress made on remediation of the 45 inactive hazardous waste sites:
- 21 sites have been “delisted”;
- 1 site is “properly closed”;
- 8 sites are “closed with continued management”;
- 3 sites, action may be deferred because they do not present a significant threat to the environment or human health;
- 6 sites continue to be a significant threat to environment, considered “class 2”;
- 1 site is only temporarily classified because of lack of data;
- 1 site has not yet received a classification
- 2 sites are currently undergoing remediation under the NYS Voluntary or Brownfield Clean Up Programs
- 2 sites are currently undergoing remediation under the Environmental Restoration Program.
R/V Mudpuppy sampling in the Buffalo River near the Smith Street habitat restoration site, August 2005. credit: Martin Doster, NYSDEC
Buffalo River Environmental Dredging Feasibility Study
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District performed a reconnaissance level study from 2001-2003, which determined that there was Federal interest in initiating a cost-shared feasibility study of environmental dredging on the Buffalo River from Hamburg Street to the confluence of Cazenovia Creek and the River.
Section 312 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1990, entitled: “Environmental Dredging,” authorizes the Secretary of the Army to remove contaminated sediments from the navigable waters of the United States. Section 312 (a) provides for removal of contaminated sediments outside the boundaries of and adjacent to a Federal navigation project as part of the operation and maintenance of the project. Section 312 (b) provides for removal of contaminated sediments for the purpose of environmental restoration and water quality improvement if such removal is requested by a non-Federal sponsor and the sponsor agrees to pay 35 percent of the cost of removal and disposal. Section 205 of WRDA 1996 amended Section 312 by stating that priority of work be given to five locations, one of which being the Buffalo Harbor and River, Buffalo, NY. The non-federal sponsor for the feasibility study is Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, who has agreed to cost share half of the $2.1 million feasibility study which is expected to take three years.
A Feasibility Cost Share Agreement was signed between the Corps Buffalo District and Riverkeeper on April 8, 2005. The expected outcomes of the feasibility study include the following:
- Identification and quantification of potential Operation & Maintenance benefits
- Identification and quantification of potential environmental restoration benefits
- Formulation of alternative plans that are consistent with the RAP
- Evaluation of alternative plans
- Coordination with stakeholders concerning the findings of the study.
- Identification of a National Economic Development plan and National Ecosystem Restoration Plan
- Development of an Environmental Impact Statement
- Development of a project cost estimate
- Identification of a reasonable construction schedule for the recommended plan.
A major project partner in the Feasibility Study, NYSDEC-Region 9 conducted a comprehensive sediment sampling program in the Buffalo River AOC from Hamburg Street to the confluence of Cazenovia Creek and the Buffalo River in August-September 2005. The 400 samples collected will be used to define the nature and extent of sediment contamination within the AOC and the data will be provided to the USACE to be used in the assessment of remedial alternatives for River sediment.
The Feasibility Study is a necessary last step prior to actual sediment remediation. Depending on the results of the Feasibility Study, the intention of the Remedial Advisory Committee is to either pursue sediment remediation funding through the USACE 312 program or to request federal funding from U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Legacy Act in FY 2008.
The Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee believes that in combination with the complete clean up of inactive hazardous waste sites, the remediation of contaminated sediments is required to delist most of the beneficial use impairments or suspected impairments (BUIs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #14) and to make substantial progress towards delisting the entire Buffalo River Area of Concern.
Fish and Wildlife
Assessment of Potential Aquatic Habitat Restoration Sites
In 2003, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper received a grant from the NYSDEC Great Lakes Protection Fund for assessing potential aquatic habitat sites that complements the USACE Feasibility Study for sediment clean-up options. Researchers from Buffalo State College and Youngstown State--Ohio, evaluated the fish, benthic, limnological features, the land use and community surveys.
The data generated will be used in the Feasibility Study and provide useful data bases for decisions on remedial options. The characterization matrix that has been developed for the 10 potential sites will assist decision makers and stakeholders by providing a comprehensive assessment tool regarding prioritization of potential restoration sites, including decisions regarding sediment removal and/or stabilization. The study fully documents the biological and physical characteristics of 10 potential sites for the following :
- Benthic features (Species Richness, EPT Richness, Hilsenhoff Biotic Index, Chironomid Diversity, and Chironomid Deformities)
- Fishery features (IBI, DELT)
- Limnological features (Water Temperature, pH, Turbidity, Dissolved Oxygen, Velocity)
- Physical characteristics (Bank Characteristics, Bed Sediment Texture, Adjacent Land Use)
- Vegetation (% Cover Submerged, Terrestrial/Aquatic Species Richness, Terrestrial/Aquatic Exotic Species, Overhanging Vegetation)
- Community river use
The project results, when synthesized with other bird/mammal and habitat data, will offer up to date information for the RAC to complete assessments of beneficial uses (i.e.; Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations, and Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat) by the end of 2008 and will ultimately be used in the development of quantifiable delisting targets and an updated remedial strategy. A final report and data analysis will be publicly available on the Riverkeeper website in December 2005.
Smith Street Habitat Restoration Site. Overlooking the created wetland at the Smith Street site, view of the river and the ¼-mile long Concrete Central grain elevator
“Pocket Park” and Buffalo Color Peninsula Habitat Restoration Projects
Recent activity at the three Erie County Pocket Parks consists of utilizing the County's Inmate Work Program to clean up the Parks and conduct invasive species removal, particularly for Japanese Knotweed. About 50 trees at the Smith Street site were wrapped with wire mesh fencing to protect them from imminent beaver damage, which had destroyed 40 others. NYSDEC conducts ongoing operations and maintenance activities for the Buffalo Color Peninsula grasslands restoration project.
Seneca Bluffs. One of the last remaining areas of floodplain forest on the Buffalo River, the 12-acre Seneca Bluffs site was restored and protected in 2004 by Erie County. (One of the few places along the river where you may not realize that you are in an urban area.)
Seneca Bluffs Habitat Restoration Project
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (DEP) has completed Phase I of a natural habitat restoration effort in south Buffalo at a location known as “Seneca Bluffs.” Currently, funding is being sought for Phase II. Seneca Bluffs consists of 12.5 acres of floodplain located along the Buffalo River. Access to the site is near the Seneca Street Bridge, between Elk Street and Avon Place.
Seneca Bluffs was identified in 1994 as one of five unique and critical habitat areas in need of protection. The site provides habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, and is part of a larger wildlife corridor along the river. Seneca Bluffs is also part of the Buffalo River Greenway Trail and is one of the few critical habitat areas (i.e., floodplain forest) that has been directly included in the Greenway Trail design. Seneca Bluffs also is located within the Great Lakes migratory bird flyway and less than 2 miles from Tifft Nature Preserve and Times Beach. Site assets include distinct habitat types such as floodplain island, emergent wetland, forested floodplain, upland meadow, ~800 feet of eroding bluff, and 2500 linear feet of shoreline. A large diversity of migratory birds, wading birds, and waterfowl make use of the site. Recreational opportunities abound for local residents, including such activities as fishing and hiking. Problems include the domination of ~85% of the site by invasive and non-native plants. Unauthorized access and abuse by off-road vehicles contributes to invasive species and erosion problems. Illegal dumping of construction and demolition debris, stolen cars, and general litter also contribute to the pollution issue.
The Seneca Bluffs site consists primarily of an upper and lower terrace. The Seneca Bluffs Habitat Restoration Project targeted 5 acres of the upper terrace for invasive species removal (Japanese knotweed, Mugwort, Phragmites, Garlic mustard, and Purple loosestrife) and restoration plantings. Removal of invasive plants was achieved through brush hogging, tilling of surface material and removal of plant and root wads. Seeding was conducted in August 2004; planting and landscape restoration was completed in October 2004 and includes 397 trees and 630 shrubs.
The project also included construction of an ADA trail, three fishing access locations, a scenic overlook, a seasonal aquatic habitat, improved parking facilities and site security measures. A baseline survey of the site that included species identification was completed.
Alltift Site Wetlands Restoration
NYSDEC restoration work at the Alltift site, located north of South Park Ave. at New Abby, includes a wetlands project consisting of 12.5 acres of shallow emergence, deep emergence and open water wetlands habitats. Plantings have been designed to enhance native non-invasive wildlife. The landfill has also been designed for future recreational opportunities. There is no official timetable for the site. Currently the property will remain vacant but will be maintained in accordance with the Department approved long-term operation and maintenance plan. Remediation activities are expected to be completed by the fall of 2005.
Current projects and outlook
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was recently awarded a five-year grant from U.S. EPA-Region II for the continued coordination and management of the Buffalo River RAP. The following highlights the next steps and commitments by Riverkeeper, the Buffalo River RAC, and agency partners during the next 5 years.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Complete the assessment of three “likely impaired” uses (BUI #2- Tainting of Fish and Wildlife Flavor; BUI#3- Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations; and BUI#5- Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems).
- Complete the assessment of the two “unknown” use impairments (BUI#8- Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae; and BUI#13- Degradation of Phytoplankton).
Delisting Criteria/Restoration Targets
- Complete the assessments and data analysis needed for the development of quantitative criteria/targets for BUI#14- Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat.
- Upon completion of BUI evaluation and assessment, if necessary develop criteria/targets for BUIs #2, #3, #5, #8, and #13.
- Begin to develop monitoring methods and protocols for the delisting of BUIs.
- Begin to identify remedial measures for delisting BUIs.
- Conduct 2006 RIBS sampling.
- Discharge permit monitoring and renewal (SPDES)
- Long-Term Control Plan implementation
- Phase II Stormwater Regulations implementation
- Illicit Discharge Trackdown and Impervious Surface Modeling
- Complete Mobil Oil Corporation (915040) remediation.
- Complete Steelfields LTD (915017) remediation by 2007.
- Complete remedial work at Buffalo Color Plant (915184) site by 2006.
- Complete Tifft-Hopkins St. (915131) contaminated soil removal by summer 2005.
- Complete remedial and park restoration activities at Boone Park (B00196).
- Commence 90 Hopkins St. (E915181) lime material removal.
- Implement intensive sediment sampling for lower Buffalo River during August-September 2005.
- Implement “Feasibility Study for Environmental Dredging of the Buffalo River”.
- Apply to U.S. EPA for Great Lakes Legacy Act funding for sediment remediation.
Fish & Wildlife
- Complete remediation and restoration work at Alltift site in Fall 2005.
- Conduct annual fish stocking and electroshocking through 2010 as part of the Buffalo River Walleye Restoration Project.
- Implement the USFWS Goby Survey project during 2005.
- Produce final report from the “Assessment of Potential Aquatic Habitat Restoration Sites in the Buffalo River Area of Concern” project during the summer of 2005.
- YYYY: description
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Buffalo River AOC Fate & Transport Studies
- Modeling of Sediment Transport and Deposition Within the Buffalo River; University at Buffalo
- Estimations of Sediment Yield for the Buffalo River Watershed (BASINS-SWAT Model); Buffalo State College
- Assessment of Modeling Tools and Data Needs for Developing the Sediment Portion of the TMDL Plan for a Mixed Land Use Watershed; Buffalo State College
- Models Linking Sediment Concentration and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages: Addressing a Critical Gap in the Development of Sediment TMDLs; Buffalo State College.
- Sediment Trend Analysis of the Buffalo River, Singer, et al; 2004-05
- Bioavailability of Contaminants in Shallow Water Surface Sediments within the Buffalo River AOC; Pickard, et.al., 2004
- Development of GIS Coverages to Document and Visualize Sediment Quality in the Buffalo River; USACE and Buffalo State College, 2004.
- Assessment of Potential Aquatic Habitat Restoration Sites in the Buffalo River Area of Concern(PDF 4720Kb 130 pages) ; FBNR, Buffalo State College, Youngstown University, 2003-2005.
- Assessment of Contaminated Sediment in the Lower Buffalo River; University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, 2004-05.
- Reconnaissance Study, Section 312 (WRDA ’90) Environmental Dredging, Buffalo River; United States Army Corps of Engineers, 2003.
Human Health Considerations
The Buffalo River RAP and related Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Great Lakes RAP documents contain a number of descriptions of ongoing activities relative to human health considerations. These human health consideration activities include narratives that describe the following initiatives: fish and wildlife consumption advisories; investigations, study needs and priorities; contaminated sediment criteria and management strategy; and air toxics health risk assessment required by the Clean Air Act Amendments.
- Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper developed and published the June 2005 Buffalo River AOC Report Card (PDF 3900Kb, 2 pages) , an outreach piece designed to give local stakeholders and the community a snapshot of the health and status of the Buffalo River watershed. The Report Card has been distributed to local government agencies and community leaders. A complementary document, the Buffalo River Citizen’s Report Card, encourages public participation in the RAP process by allowing individuals to “grade” the river and offer comments.
- Fish Consumption Advisory Brochure - NYSDEC in cooperation with NYSDOH has produced an informational handout advising specific limits and prohibitions concerning eating certain Lake Erie and Lake Ontario fish. Childbearing women have been identified as a high-risk group and should particularly heed these warnings.
Keeping up on RAP Information and Progress: If you would like to receive RAC brochures, announcements and updated reports about the Buffalo River RAP, please send your name, address and specific request to the RAP Coordinator in the Buffalo River AOC Contacts section below.
In October 2003, the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) selected Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers to coordinate the implementation of the Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan. Effective July 2005, the Friends changed names to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
With the assistance of the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC), NYSDEC and other governmental and non-governmental organizations, Riverkeeper has begun to make significant progress towards delisting. Since taking over coordination of the RAP, Riverkeeper has re-engaged the RAC, conducted a full re-assessment of all 14 beneficial uses, developed delisting criteria/restoration targets for five of the six known BUIs, tracked Buffalo River research and ongoing projects, identified data gaps and needed projects related to BUI assessment, and prepared the 2005 Buffalo River RAP Status Report.
Although community involvement activities have not been identified as specific RAP goals, nor are they directly related to the 14 Beneficial Use Impairments, each of these activities plays an integral role in RAP implementation. Public access projects frequently correspond with habitat restoration; environmental education is key to addressing nonpoint source pollution; and public participation is often times a requirement for many studies and environmental actions.
Times Beach Public Access Project
The Times Beach Public Access Project is a collaborative effort, with the US Army Corps of Engineers conducting ecosystem restoration; Erie County, in cooperation with the City of Buffalo, providing public access; and the Times Beach ad hoc Committee serving in an advisory capacity. Project highlights include elevated boardwalks, ground-level paths, bird watching blinds, overlook platforms and a bulletin-board style information kiosk. The Times Beach Project provides safe public access to one of the best birding areas in the Northeastern United States. The first phase of the Times Beach project restored the southeast portion of the site. Improvements included a 6’ wide by ~750’ long stone path trail, a 12’ x 28’ overlook platform; one bird watching blind, a parking lot for 10 cars, and information kiosk, and limited fence repairs. Phase I was completed in 2004. The second phase of the project encompasses the majority of the site, stretching to the northwest boundary. Proposed improvements include a system of 6’ wide stone trails and elevated boardwalks totaling ~4,000 linear feet, two bird watching blinds, one minor overlook platform, and complete fence repairs. Phase II has recently received funding commitments and is set to commence in Fall 2005.
Buffalo River Public Outreach Efforts
FBNR conducted three public forums on the status of the Buffalo River. These community meetings were held at the Peter Machnica Center in Kaisertown (May 2004), Valley Community Center in Valley (October 2004), and Old First Ward Community Center in the First Ward (May 2005). Community members were invited to take these opportunities to learn about our progress on the Buffalo River and lend their voices to the discussion. Individuals interested in fishing, birding, hiking, boating or otherwise enjoying the Buffalo River waterfront attended. Outreach efforts also included door-to-door discussions with community members.
Education and Stewardship Programs
The Valley Community Association has partnered with several organizations to conduct education and stewardship programs on the Buffalo River.
- Nature Ed-ventures will provide learning opportunities using the Valley Nature Park and Habitat Trail on the Buffalo River.
- VCA uses the park to instill citizenship and character development in program participants through cleanups and plantings.
- VCA also partners with Praxair, who conducts annual improvements of the shoreline and park and has donated numerous trees.
- Ford Motor Company union UAW 897 has also joined the effort, conducting cleanups, repairing the guardrail, and painting benches.
- Neighborhood residents have been encouraged to adopt the area, and as a result, vandalism has been nearly eradicated.
Since 2003, FBNR has conducted 10-15 semiannual neighborhood cleanups at various sites along the Buffalo River to encourage community stewardship of the waterfront.
Erie County Water Quality Advisory Committee
The Erie County Water Quality Strategy was prepared by the Erie County Water Quality Advisory Committee. The committee works to coordinate efforts to improve water quality in the county, especially through the development and implementation of a strategy to control nonpoint source water pollution. The Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC) plans to concentrate on nonpoint source water pollution problems. Nonpoint sources are seen as a threat or potential threat to water quality in all of the county's major watersheds. Sources of nonpoint pollution include: agricultural and related runoff (fertilizers and pesticides), sedimentation from erosion, septic system failure and other runoff from sources such as road salt, leaking underground storage tanks and other chemical containers.