Work underway to create functional ecosystem at Silo City

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- In the shadow of the grain elevators, PUSH Blue crews work at a Silo City parking lot.

Cars can leave behind gasoline and other waste and those pollutants travel when it rains.

The PUSH Blue team is working to create a path for the water to take from a biosoil, which in this case is a row of trees and flowers, to the basin. Once it reaches the basin, trees and plants native to WNY will clean the water naturally.

“All of this water waste is going to be eventually going down to infiltration pond and it’s going to be absorbed naturally by the native plants, native trees, we’re going to be planting,” said Esmerelda Jimenez, a crew member.

This is just one of many vacant lots they will treat. The goal is to reduce the burden on the city sewer system.

“All of our relatively clean rain water and sewage go into the same pipes and every time we have a heavy rain, it’s too much for our water treatment plant to handle so we have overflows of our sewage directly into our water bodies,” said Josh Smith, the program director. “That’s why our beaches are closed after a heavy rain.”

The program also has other benefits. PUSH’s mission is to create green jobs. Jimenez is a Buffalo State College graduate who was hired by PUSH five years ago. She’s originally from Texas.

“The Great Lakes, they’re really important to me and I feel like I need to protect them,” said Jimenez.

This team plans to work on this site for the next few months..

“PUSH Blue is a godsend for this site,” said Rick Smith, Silo City’s owner.

He told News 4 it was once home to railroad debris and other junk.

“It’s transformational,” said Smith. “We had no butterflies, very few birds around here. Now it’s a symphony down here some days.”

By the end of the season PUSH Blue hopes to transform 22 acres of vacant land.

The organization is also getting ready for an EPA grant-funded project that will start this fall. It will restore sections of the waterfront at Silo City into a more functional, natural environment.

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