Black substance in Niagara Falls prompts concern

Posted at 10:54 PM, Jul 30, 2017

UPDATE: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has opened an investigation into what caused the discharge from a waste water treatment plant in the falls.

Sunday’s view of Niagara Falls is everything tourists like Elaina Mullentore hoped it would be. “It was breathtaking. The views. You can't find them anywhere else,” she said. “They kind of change colors in certain areas. It's a lighter blue or an emerald green,” she added. 

A far cry from Saturday according to the Maid of the Mist Twitter page. The tourist attraction posted a photo showing what it describes as a smelly black discharge. Sunday though, there wasn't any signs of it in the water. “It was really blue. It was bluer than I've ever seen an ocean or lake. It was really cool,” said tourist, Kaitlyn Dube.

The black sludge had dissipated by Sunday. However, tourists noticed something else that may have lingered from the black pool of water. “It definitely smelled like fish and kind of like sulfur,” said Mullentore. “There is a slight smell compared to what I remember,” added Frank Spaid.

According to the Niagara Falls Water Board the discharge came from maintenance at the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Buffalo Avenue and contained some accumulated solids and carbon residue within permitted limits and did not include any organic type oils or solvents.  In a statement, the Board said “The "inky water" is the result of a routine, necessary, and short term change in the waste water treatment process. We apologize for causing alarm to residents, tourists and others.The unfortunate odor would be limited to the normal sewer water discharge smell."

The odor didn't seem to bother tourists like Mullentore. She said she still enjoyed her first visit to the Falls. “I feel like it adds to the character,” she concluded.

Calls to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, and the NYSDEC were not returned on Sunday.