CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just about every time there is a hard rain, raw sewage overflows into Scajaquada Creek, with garbage and other pollutants washing down the stream, and into Hoyt Lake.
State Sen. Tim Kennedy announced, Monday afternoon, Cheektowaga town officials and the state have reached a deal to clean the creek up, and Kennedy minced no words in his description of the Scajaquada as, “the most polluted waterway in all of Western New York, and in all of New York state.”
One look at the so-called “trash rack” where the creek flows into Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park seems to tell the whole story: when rain fills up storm drains along the creek, they wash into Cheektowaga’s sanitary sewers, causing overflows, sending raw sewage gushing downstream.
“If we are able to alleviate that storm water into the sanitary sewers,” said the lawmaker who represents Buffalo, Cheektowaga, and West Seneca, “it will have direct impact, ultimately, on the pollution that is being caused in Scajaquada Creek and in Hoyt Lake.”
Cheektowaga’s sewage treatment facility combines storm water with sanitary effluent, which is illegal, but the source of the storm water is often illegal tie-ins, such as sump pumps and downspouts from private residences.
State Department of Environmental Conservation officials say that has to stop, and Kennedy said town officials have agreed to take action, “That there will be a strong compliance, and with that compliance will come a direct decrease in the amount of storm water that goes into these sanitary sewers, causing this pollution into Scajaquada Creek.”
But it will be a job that may be easier said than done–convincing town residents and businesses to disconnect their storm drains from the town’s sewers–especially knowing the creek flows through other towns besides Cheektowaga.
“I also believe very strongly that the Town of Cheektowaga residents are going to want to comply with this, recognizing that this is an issue for the town, this is an issue for the region, and it is time to deal with it,” added Kennedy.
Cheektowaga has already started a voluntary compliance effort, urging homeowners with illegal tie-ins to disconnect them, and if that doesn’t work, a crackdown on those tie-ins could follow. Kennedy said, state and town officials would be getting together in about two weeks to work on those details.