Thursday's rain storms caused the Scajaquada Creek to run over its banks and Hoyt Lake to overflow in Buffalo. The issue raises concerns with water quality, as thousands of gallons of raw sewage were discharged into the waterway by municipalities along the creek.
"Cheektowaga and all the surrounding communities, everyone's system was totally inundated with storm water because it was such a heavy intensity rainfall," explained Pat Bowen, the Town of Cheektowaga Engineer.
Cheektowaga is working to rehabilitate its entire sewage system, under consent order from New York State. Bowen says it's a 10 year plan that will continue through 2025 and is estimated to cost $70 million. Right now, the town has relined around 20 percent of its pipes.
But Cheektowaga can't make improvements on private systems that contribute to the overflow problem as well.
"That comes from roof drains, gutters, sump pumps and foundation drains," Bowen said.
"Anytime that happens, you're going to get overflow situations until we address the aging infrastructure problems, both on the public and private side," Kerrie Gallo said. She's deputy executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
But Gallo points out another reason the flooding can get so bad downstream: channelization.
It's the man-made changing of a waterway, over time, to straighten it out. That causes the water to flow downstream much faster than nature intended.
"Inherently, the more water you're moving the faster it's moving, the downstream areas are going to be prone to some flooding," Gallo explained.