NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - There has been yet another discharge near Niagara Falls, following a heavy rain storm. The photos posted on this page were provided to Two On Your Side on Monday morning.
After a DEC investigation into a similar discharge on July 29 that made national headlines, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive consent order to the water board last week. The order prohibited any future discharges without DEC supervision, required a mandatory re-training of all employees and imposed a $50,000 fine.
According to Niagara Falls Water Board member Nick Forster, this morning's discharge was an overflow discharge, similar to many others which occur when there are heavy rain events, and when the plant's 60 million gallon treatment capacity is exceeded due to excessive storm water runoff.
When this occurs, excess combined storm and sanitary sewage – which remains untreated- is discharged into the Niagara River.
Such occurrences, permitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), have been a reality since the plant began operating more than 40 years ago.
However, the overflow which occurred this morning was not the usual brown or grey colored discharge.
Instead, it was an inky black color, similar to the infamous discharge of July 29, which was not related to a rain event.
On July 29, plant operators seeking to drain a sediment basin for repairs mistakenly left a pump running too long, allowing the carbon materials at the bottom to be discharged into the river producing a black cloud.
The error resulted in a host of directives from the DEC, and a fine of $50,000.
The sediment basin which had been out of service since the July 29 event, according to Forster, could not be put back into service until approval by the DEC.
That approval, according to Forster, was granted on Friday.
However, the repairs that took the basin out of operation still have yet to be completed and won't be for another 48 hours, according to Forster.
Forster told WGRZ-TV it is believed that the inability to backwash the carbon bed filters and treat the water, resulted in today's black water discharge event.
The maximum penalty for violations of the State’s water quality standards is $37,500 per day, per violation.
Two On Your Side's Dave McKinley was first to report on the latest discharge on Monday morning. Follow him on Twitter for updates and his report on Channel 2 News First at Five.
Monday afternoon, the Niagara Falls Water Board provided the following statement to the media: