Monday, January 31, 2011

Public-Private Partnership to Clean Up the Buffalo River

A unique public-private partnership is seeking to restore the Buffalo River channel to its pre-industrial quality by dredging over a million cubic yards of contaminated sediment and also clean up the river side slopes over the next three years.

The partners include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, NY state Department of Environmental Conservation, Honeywell and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.

“It has economic and ecological benefits ..." said Jill Jedlicka, director of ecological programs for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “A restored river will not only benefit the Great Lakes, it will benefit local communities that use [that] resource, as well as future planned and proposed economic redevelopment within the region.”

$6 million has already been invested in the planning and research and evaluation of the studies. The cleanup cost is estimated at more than $40 million.

The Army Corps of Engineers will conduct the first phase, removing contaminated sediment in the federal navigation channel. The project is scheduled to begin June 15 is expected to be completed by Nov. 15.

In the spring of 2012, the second phase, to be implemented with the oversight of the U.S. EPA, will get under way to clean up the side slopes of the river along a 6.2-mile stretch of the lower river and a 1.4-mile stretch of the City Ship Canal, which is designated as a federal Area of Concern.

A public meeting was held on January 25. The partners are still seeking public comment on a preferred action plan, which is available at the DEC website.

Below is a map of the Buffalo River showing the location of the proposed dredging and restoration areas.

[click image to enlarge]

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