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Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, partners, to host public forum on Buffalo River

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Thu, May 3rd 2018 11:35 am
'Buffalo River, Past to Present: A Journey of Aesthetics' public forum at downtown Central Library
Improved conditions in Buffalo River 'area of concern' have enhanced water quality, removed debris & other pollutants
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning is partnering with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to present "Buffalo River, Past to Present: A Journey of Aesthetics", an interactive public forum to be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the downtown Central Library. The meeting will be held on the second floor in the gallery conference room.
In 1987, the Buffalo River was listed as a hotspot of contamination in the Great Lakes through the "area of concern" ("AOC") program. Remedial actions to improve water quality in the Buffalo River have now been met and the Buffalo River Remedial advisory committee ("RAC") will recommend the removal of the river's "Degradation of Aesthetics" Beneficial Use Impairment ("BUI"), a significant step toward delisting the Buffalo River as an "AOC."
"Removal of this BUI is cause for regional pride and celebration. It means that we are making progress towards fully restoring the Buffalo River," Commissioner of Environment and Planning Tom Hersey said. "We will continue to work with partners like Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to protect and restore our waterways all around Erie County."
"Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has committed to engaging the public on Buffalo River restoration for nearly three decades and, because of the unique partnerships that led to river restoration, we have reached this milestone where we can begin discussions on the removal of our first beneficial use impairments", said Jill Jedlicka, executive director. "The recovery of the Buffalo River is an international success story, and together with our community we are establishing a new legacy for this irreplaceable resource."
There are 43 "AOCs" in the Great Lakes, defined as "geographic areas designated by the parties (International Joint Commission) where significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level." Up to 14 BUIs, or indicators of degraded water and habitat quality, are used to evaluate the condition of an "AOC."
In March, the RAC unanimously agreed to recommend the removal of BUI 11, "degradation of aesthetics," from the Buffalo River "AOC" from "impaired" to "not impaired." This BUI is given to waterways with excessive debris, oil sheens or other causes that degrade the waterway. The removal process requires a formal report to confirm all actions necessary to remove this BUI have been met.
Thursday's public forum will present the formal report for public comment, which will be accepted through May 31, and is available online at https://bnwaterkeeper.org/bui11/. Copies of the document are also available at all Buffalo & Erie County Library branches.
Written public comments on the document will be accepted through May 31, and can be submitted through email at [email protected] or through mail to 721 Main St., Buffalo, NY, 14203; ATTN: Buffalo River RAC.

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