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High levels of E. coli found in Buffalo's Black Rock Canal

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jun 07, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Consider Buffalo's Black Rock Canal Park like a home away from home for 50-year-old Richard Chmiel.

“I’ve been swimming and fishing in this water for about 40 years,” he said. “I love being around the water whether I’m fishing, walking, or bringing my kids around here.”

But, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Project Manager Wendy Paterson wants those, like Chmiel, who visit the park to be aware of the high levels of E. coli present in the water.

Paterson saida sample she collected last week showed a 10,000 count of E. coli colony formations. A single sample should detect no more than 235.

“When it rains, our current system can’t handle it. Instead of it backing up into our houses, it overflows into our waterways untreated. People fish here. Kids do go swimming, but the truth is people are coming in contact with this water and they do not know that behind them is a sewage outflow,” she explained.

The Buffalo Sewer Authority declined our request for an interview, but in a statement it said:

“At the time that the sample was taken, the Cornelius Creek combined sewer overflow was not active. The overflow did however activate earlier in the day from 6:00 AM to 1:15 PM. Buffalo Sewer is working diligently to prevent overflows at this location and throughout our system as part of our Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan.”

Paterson said the test wasn’t an attack on the Buffalo Sewer Authority, nor should anyone be concerned that there could be E. coli in your drinking water because Black Rock Canal isn’t where the city gets its water supply. However, she said it should serve as a warning for anyone doing recreational activities at the park.