BUFFALO, N.Y. — You might recall a social media post from Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, after a lot of rain, nearly 50 million gallons of untreated sewage flowed into area waterways. That prompted the environmental group to put out a warning to keep out of Cazenovia Creek for at least 24 hours.
That got us thinking: what else are they working on to keep us safe, and able to enjoy our rivers, creeks and Lake Erie? Turns out, there’s a total of $10 million of work underway.
At the confluence of Cazenovia Creek and the Buffalo River, a $1 million project is underway. The Thomas F. Higgins Natural Habitat Park is part of the Buffalo Blueway project. It’s state funded plan to connect you, with nature.
“Whether that's for kayak launching, whether that's for fishing,” Katherine Winkler, senior program manager, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper said.
Winkler is our tour guide, as we navigate around heavy machinery doing its own ballet across the narrow peninsula. She explains how it gets its fair share of Mother Nature’s wrath.
“(It) experiences extreme flooding and ice flow during the late winter, early spring,” Winkler said.
Not to mention an influx of water when the area experiences a seiche.
“We're installing a whole bunch of rock along the shoreline,” Winkler said.
She’s laughing, but these boulders are also keeping a beloved neighborhood park intact.
“They may live in areas where they live in apartments, where there are no trees in their backyard,” Winkler said. “Just being able to walk five minutes down the road and seeing this, is a really special opportunity for them."
This also brings eyes to the waterways. That helps BN Waterkeeper stay in the know with any issues, especially regarding combined sewer overflows.
“The Buffalo Sewer Authority does have a long-term control plan and they are working towards it,” Winkler said. “What Waterkeeper likes to do, is we test routinely of the waterways and then we will alert the public.”
No one really swims in the Buffalo River, but if you plan on kayaking in the river, Winkler has some advice.
“The hand sanitizer that we always promote, people being safe on the waterways,” Winkler said.
If you see something, Winkler says please say something.
“We're always on call to take those types of inquiries or concerns from the public,” Winkler said. “And we don't have any authority to, you know, fix those problems. But we do know the people who do.”
As for this project, it’s like a giant puzzle.
“The operators are amazing when it comes to that,” Winkler smiled. “They will pick a stone and just keep turning it until it's in the exact position.”
The site will be complete in mid-August. There are two more in design right now. Those include the Harlem Road Fishing access site in West Seneca, as well as Seneca Bluffs.