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Start of construction on $55 million wastewater treatment project in Buffalo


Wed, Oct 19th 2022 08:40 pm

State investment advances Buffalo Sewer Authority's plan to improve treatment and reduce sewer overflows to Niagara River

√ NYS: Modernizing aging infrastructure will help protect public health and the environment

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the start of construction on a $55 million wastewater improvement project at the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility in the City of Buffalo.

New York state is investing $55 million to fund the project, which is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to modernize the Bird Island facility and significantly reduce the amount of pollution that enters the Niagara River.

Hochul’s team said, “The project will help ensure cleaner, healthier water for all residents and visitors to Buffalo and the greater Western New York area.”

The governor said, "Together in strong partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York state is putting an end to decades of disinvestment in critical water infrastructure that has been left to fall into disrepair. This $55 million project will be crucial to safeguarding our public and environmental health, and is the latest investment in our nation-leading efforts to modernize New York's water infrastructure. My administration is committed to maximizing New York state's unprecedented clean water investments and the historic funding in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help protect our precious water resources, and provide a healthy environment for our families, businesses and communities to thrive."

The project broke ground at a ceremony in Buffalo in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Hochul’s team said, “The event demonstrated New York's nation-leading commitment to clean water infrastructure investments and to the fundamental objective of the Clean Water Act, adopted in October 1972, ‘to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters.’

“The start of construction on this project is a key milestone in the Buffalo Sewer Authority's course to resolve longstanding violations of the Clean Water Act under an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was developed in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility was originally constructed in the 1930s and upgraded in the 1970s.”

The project announced here is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to bring aging infrastructure into compliance with current standards. It “will increase the facility's capacity to handle intense rain events that can overwhelm Buffalo's combined sewer/stormwater system. These improvements will reduce untreated sewage effluent discharges to the Niagara River. Future projects in the plan include more robust sewage treatment processes and collection system improvements.”

New York state has committed $55 million in grants and low-cost financing to fund this project, the Environmental Facilities Corp. provided a $9 million grant from the Water Infrastructure Improvement grant program, and a $9 million grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Department of Environmental Conservation provided $10 million in state funding from the Water Quality Improvement Project grant program. The Environmental Facilities Corp. is funding the remaining cost of the project with low-cost financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Chair of the Environmental Facilities Corp. Basil Seggos said, "The Department of Environmental Conservation applauds the City of Buffalo for moving this critically important project forward and working closely with the state to protect the region's water quality. With state resources in the form of significant grants and low-cost loans, Gov. Hochul is once again demonstrating New York's ongoing support for municipal clean water infrastructure upgrades that will make noteworthy progress in improving the environment, habitat, and quality of life for Western New Yorkers, while creating good-paying 'green' construction jobs."

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "In 1968, after years of industrial pollution, the Buffalo River caught fire, also sparking the very first Earth Day where the public demanded change to provide protections for clean air, land and water. Great progress has been made since the Clean Water Act was signed into law 50 years ago. This project builds on the progress we've made to clean up local waterways and provide the residents of Buffalo and Western New York with a healthier environment."

New York State Sen. Sean Ryan said, "The upgrades to the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility represent a significant investment into the health of our local environment and the safety of Western New Yorkers. By reducing sewer overflow pollution, this project will make the Niagara River safer for recreational activities, and protect the fish and wildlife that inhabit the river."

New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "This historic project will improve our environment and ensure the long-term stability of Buffalo's wastewater treatment infrastructure. This partnership between all levels of government is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work together and invest in our infrastructure and our environment.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "Ensuring our city's infrastructure is keeping pace with development and is important to the success of our community's continued growth – the $55 million Secondary Treatment System Rehabilitation Project at the Buffalo Sewer Authority's Bird Island Treatment Facility is a major piece of that.”

Local Governments Encouraged to Participate in Clean Watersheds Needs Survey

The Environmental Facilities Corp. is urging municipalities to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Watersheds Needs Survey, which the Environmental Facilities Corp. kicked off in New York on March 1. 

Hochul’s team said “Participation is critical, as it may impact how much federal Clean Water State Revolving Fund dollars will be allocated to New York state to fund future clean water infrastructure projects. Municipalities are asked to document their community's wastewater infrastructure needs for submission to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” 

Visit https://efc.ny.gov/needs to submit documentation and for resources to assist with submissions.

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