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About Buffalo River AOC

Buffalo River AOC Boundary MapThe Buffalo River AOC Boundary MapThe Buffalo River Area of Concern 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 “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 AOC also includes the entire 1.4-mile stretch of the City Ship Canal, located adjacent to the river. In 1989 Buffalo River was designated an AOC as part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987.

The area was highly degraded because of heavy industrial development in the middle of a large municipality. Some of those degradations are:

  • contaminated bottom sediments
  • 33 combined sewer overflow outfalls
  • 3 connections to the Buffalo sewer system from outside sewer districts
  • 45 inactive hazardous waste sites within the AOC

Contaminants of concern include PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals and industrial organics. Dissolved oxygen levels, turbidity and bacterial contamination all pose water quality concerns. Potential riparian and aquatic habitat areas were limited due to contamination, development and an altered shoreline.

The AOC includes:
  • the 6.2-mile impact area
  • the entire 1.4-mile stretch of the City Ship Canal, neighboring the river
  • the AOC source area made up of three major streams in the watershed:
    • Cayuga Creek
    • Buffalo Creek
    • Cazenovia Creek

Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs)

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Fish tumors or other deformities
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat

Learn More About BUIs Exit

Restoring Buffalo River AOC (timeline)