Sewer work reduces 75 million gallons of sewage to flow into Scajaquada Creek

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, State Senator Tim Kennedy, and Assemblymembers Monica Wallace and Sean Ryan update the town's sewer relining program on July 26th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, State Senator Tim Kennedy, and Assemblymembers Monica Wallace and Sean Ryan update the town's sewer relining program on July 26th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – State and local officials announced Thursday that a project to reline the town’s sanitary sewer system to prevent sewage overflows into Scajaquada creek has reached the 30% mark.

The town has received nearly $24 million in state funds and loans to assist in the project which is mandated under a DEC consent order.

“Tomorrow is the due date for the grant [application] that is going to the DEC, and we’re hoping for a $5 million grant to help offset the expense to our residents,” said Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.

The sewer work has already decreased the amount of raw sewage that is dumped into Scajaquada Creek.  Officials say they saw a decrease of more than 55% compared to 2011.

“Cheektowaga hasn’t even hit the halfway point on their project, and already we can boast that 75 million fewer gallons of sewage are entering our waterways every year,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy.

And that’s important according to State Assemblymember Sean Ryan.

“The impact of the discharges often aren’t visible to the citizens of Cheektowaga,” says Mr. Ryan.  “It’s really visible to the residents of the City of Buffalo.  Parts of Delaware Park – Olmsted’s jewel of the system – is rendered completely unusable during some parts of the summer because of the stench.”

The discharges happen during periods of heavy rain.  The water table rises and infiltrates the unlined clay pipe sewers.  Another issue comes from residents and commercial properties that are improperly discharging stormwater into the sanitary sewer.

“The health of Scajaquada Creek has a regional impact due to its direct connection to the Niagara River and the Great Lakes, making the work being done in Cheektowaga all the more important to every Western New Yorker,” Assemblymember Monica Wallace said.

Town Engineer Patrick Bowen says the town must discharge that stormwater and raw sewage into the creek once Cheektowaga’s pump station reaches a contractual flow rate of 45 million gallons.

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)

“All our flows are pumped to the Buffalo Sewer Authority for treatment. We do not have a treatment plant,” said Mr. Bowen.  “I think what complicates that is they have their own consent order – it’s not called a consent order – so that complicates things.  The DEC essentially does not want us to pass our problem down the line.”

That’s why it’s important that Cheektowaga residents make sure stormwater from their downspouts and sump pumps are not being discharged into the sanitary sewer according to Ms. Benczkowski.

“We’re encouraging residents to call us and let us in your home to see if you’re hooked up properly,” said Ms. Benczkowski.

The Supervisor’s office says if any residents living in the Consolidated Sewer District are looking to be proactive and want to help the town reduce inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the 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.

The supervisor says an inspection problem of commercial properties including the large apartment complexes in town should begin sometime next year.

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