Sewage overflows inundate Scajaquada Creek

Discharge from the Harlem Road lift station bypass flows into Scajaquada Creek on May 25, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Discharge from the Harlem Road lift station bypass flows into Scajaquada Creek on May 25, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Supervisor Benczkowski is renewing a call for homeowners to check their downspouts after recent rains forced the sewer department to dump untreated sewage into town creeks.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sent out pollution notifications throughout Thursday morning warning the public of the recent contamination to Scajaquada Creek and Cayuga Creek.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that this is, unfortunately, a normal event because the storm water from so many homes dumps into the sanitary system.

“Anytime you have storm water going into the sanitary sewer, at a certain point you’re going to have the overflows,” said Benczkowski.

Millions of gallons of untreated sewage were dumped into the creeks Thursday because the rain water surcharged the sanitary system according to DEC estimates.

“This is why we’re encouraging (homeowners) to get (their homes) inspected.  They can call our inspector’s office to have them come out to their house, let them in, let them see if they are correctly connected and that their storm water isn’t going into the sanitary sewer,” added Benczkowski.

In addition to homeowners taking a proactive approach in reducing clear water inflow to the sewer system, the town is taking advantage of a $5 million grant received last year to reduce overall infiltration of ground water into the sewer.  The Supervisor said out of an estimated length of 200 miles in sewers – 40 of them have been lined.

Millions of gallons of untreated sewage were dumped into Scajaquada Creek on May 25, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Millions of gallons of untreated sewage were dumped into Scajaquada Creek on May 25, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

“My understanding is that the amount (of overflows) has gone down since we started lining and you’ll see less and less as the years go by but it’s a ten-year project.”

She also points to a reduction in the amount of sewage dumped into the creeks as a result of the town’s Time of Sale Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) inspections.  Since March 1, 2016, these inspections are conducted at the time of a property sale to determine if roof drains, foundation drains, sump pumps and other clear water sources are connected to the sanitary sewer system.

“(The DEC) let us know that we’re ahead of schedule.  They were very pleased to see that overflows have gone down; sewer lines were lined and time of sale inspections were complete.”

The Supervisor’s office says if any residents living in the Consolidated Sewer District are looking to be proactive and help the town reduce inflow and infiltration of storm water into sanitary sewer system, they can always call the Building & Plumbing Department at (716) 686-3490 or (716) 686-3471 to find out more information about a home drainage inspection.

“It’s a team effort.  This way we won’t have so much sewage going into Sajaquada Creek,” added Benczkowski.

Sewage Overflow Map for May 25, 2017