Dyster’s Water Board shifts blame after half inch of rain causes disaster

For the third time since the end of July, a little bit of rain on Wednesday caused a major discharge of raw sewage from the Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant into the Niagara River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported.

The event came just two months after the last time tourists were subjected to noxious smelling,  black colored water in the basin below the mighty cataracts, state officials said.

The department said the resulting “badly discolored” river water violated the state’s water quality standards.

“These continued violations are wholly unacceptable,” the DEC said in a statement. It said the maximum penalty for water quality violations is $37,500 per day, per violation.

The Niagara Falls Water Board reported to the DEC that excess sewage was discharged when its wastewater treatment plant’s processing capacity was exceeded during what they called a “heavy” rainfall.

According to the National Weather Service, about one half of one inch of rain fell on Niagara Falls Wednesday.

The Water Board statement said it has no way of controlling the color of overflow discharge when it rains, before starting to beg for state aid. It said the overflow was “a direct result of outdated infrastructure and system design limitations.”

In late July, a foul-smelling discharge turned the water near the base of Niagara Falls an alarming shade of black during a busy tourist weekend.

The state fined the water board $50,000 and said the agency would have to make changes at the plant and obtain state approval before any future discharges.

Local water officials blamed that incident on the outdated equipment, as well as miscommunication between employees.

The city water board was the brainchild of former city councilman and current Mayor Paul Dyster who, in 2002, was looking for a way to advance himself from councilman to mayor. At that time, water and sewer rate increases were passed by City Council, and Mr. Dyster spearheaded the drive to spin water and sewer service off into a “public benefit corporation” he and other city officials could hide behind to avoid responsibility for an essential city service.

Dyster’s scheme has been an unmitigated disaster for city residents, who have seen rates skyrocket, the natural wonder they live beside polluted unimaginably, and endured no water service at all in some neighborhoods for months at a time.

The Niagara Falls Water Board was cited yet again this week for polluting the Niagara River below the Falls. Constructed in the early 1970’s, the then state-of-the-art facility, built to handle the wastes of the formerly large local chemical industry, now features “outdated infrastructure and system design limitations” according to the Water Board.

In a statement Wednesday night, the DEC said it was notified of the discharge by the Niagara Falls Water Board and started an investigation.

The statement noted that DEC officials “observed badly discolored water in the Niagara River – which clearly constitutes a violation of the state’s water quality standards. These continued violations are wholly unacceptable. The NFWB must take immediate corrective measures and DEC will pursue additional enforcement as appropriate.”

A statement from the Water Board, also issued Wednesday night, noted that it is unable to prevent discharges when it rains.

The statement said, “The root cause of such overflow occurrences – of which the DEC is well aware and has been working with the NFWB on – is a direct result of outdated infrastructure and system design limitations that impact overall facility capacity during heavy volume periods. The NFWB also has no way of controlling for color or turbidity with respect to the overflow water during a wet weather event.”

The Water Board added that “extensive efforts do remain underway to identify potential short- and long-term solutions to mitigate these existing facility constraints.”

The costly, Dyster-created Frankenstein that is the Water Board has been of no benefit whatsoever to Niagara Falls businesses and residents. It has, like most of the mayor’s ideas, proven to be a liability.

A half an inch of rain.

One Comment

  1. On July 29, 2017 the Toronto Sun embarrassingly reported that the Niagara Falls treatment plant dumped raw sewerage into one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

    Three months later, October 9th 2017
    the Niagara Falls Water Board again dumped this contaminated water saying; “it has no way of controlling raw sewerage discharges in to the Niagara Gorge … because this is a “direct result of outdated infrastructure and system design”.

    Yet in 1960 we were told the same thing about the current AASTP, and a “state of art” treatment plant was built on Buffalo Avenue, after bulldozing the formerly historic landmark Adams Generating Station; which was the first place globally where hydroelectricity was generated and distributed.

    The sewerage treatment facility started operations in 1977, and today is the largest of its kind in the country. In1993, the USEPA referred to this plant as “the most successful operation of any of the municipal carbon treatment facilities anywhere in the country.”

    Now less then 25 years later it’s board says the facility is inefficent although there is less waste to process due to a lack of manufacturing and decline in residential customers; besides telling is that its Carbon – Processing process was outdated a decade after being built.

    Wow those taxpayers dollars weren’t spent wisely on that “state-of-art” treatment plant? Just another example of how citizens and businesses getting lied to by a municipality wasting our money.

    History shows how politicians usurped by way of eminent domain, this previously owned private national heritage landmark, only to eagerly bulldoze it into a sewerage plant. City leaders, citizens, tourist, and businesses should be outraged at this polluting of our natural waterway!

    I guess that they think the public forgets quickly; as stewards of our global-we need to question veracity of the boards claims based on their previous creditability and that of the United States EPA review. As long as the NFWB can continue to pay the $37,500 fine (with our taxpayer dollars) each time it dumps, nothing will change and Lake Ontario will continue become polluted.

    We need to hold those who have control accountable for these willful actions. This practice of intentional dumping raw sewerage is unacceptable in today’s society.

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