Flint water crisis causing WNYers to take a closer look at waterfront

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The country has had their eyes on Flint, Michigan as the city goes through a water crisis; their H2O has tested positive for high levels of lead.

Dozens of members from True Bethel Baptist church shipped off to Flint with thousands of water bottles for the residents.

“It’s devastating,” said Darius Pridgen, the Common Council President. “It’s heart breaking. What makes it heart breaking is the lack of help that’s really there. I just didn’t expect what we saw. Today, we went back out at a site and they were actually coming to get the Buffalo water and it was a constant line.”

This has many questioning what’s in their water. Here, in Western New York, it has many, who have been on the front lines of trying to clean up a water front, receiving more attention.

“Without cleaning it up, our city is kind of down in the dumps,” said John Nowak, one of the members of Citizens United for a Clean Lackawanna Waterfront. “If it could be cleaned up, the potential is just incredible”

He was been working for more than 25 years to get the area in the south towns cleaned up because, right now, the Lackwanna shores are inaccessible because they’re used as a dumping site for pollutants and chemicals from the former Bethlehem Steel Plant.

“If ever it were breached or ruptured, it would get into the Smokes Creek. What’s happening on Lackawanna’s water front doesn’t stay in Lackawanna.”

That creek, sits just 140 feet away. If the contaminants hit that water, they can travel down stream to the Buffalo Water Supply, impacting the water source for towns like Amherst and Clarence and could even go as far as Toronto – the total number of people who could be affected is around 15 million in two separate countries.

Nowak says people in the south towns are talking now since seeing what is unfolding in Flint.

“We’re similar towns; a post industrial city,” said Nowak.

He says seeing the issues the Michigan city is having is making people in Western New York realize the importance of keep their water sources clean and uncontaminated.

“It’s very important,” starts Nowak. “Without clean water, we’re going to have a lot of expense and a bad reputation and it’ll affect not only Lackawanna’s but Buffalo’s image.”


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