Falls Water Board hires firm to assess black water incident

Falls Water Board Hires Engineering Firm

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The Niagara Falls Water Board announced Monday it has hired an engineering firm to look into the black water discharged into the lower Niagara River late last month.

AECOM, a global infrastructure firm, will examine the exact cause of the discharge on July 29 by looking over equipment readings, summary reports and facility water quality monitoring findings, among other resources, according to the Niagara Falls Water Board.  If needed, AECOM will also suggest possible follow-up steps and evaluation. 

“After internally compiling numerous operational details related to the July 29th incident, we have also formally engaged AECOM, a firm with extensive global wastewater infrastructure experience, as the next step in our very sincere and thorough review of the incident," said Niagara Falls Water Board Director Rolfe Porter in a statement.

The work to investigate the discharge incident will cost up to $25,000, according to a spokesperson for the Water Board. 

"The AECOM services are being utilized through an extension of a turbidity study the firm performed for the Water Board in 2015. The Board also previously approved funds for AECOM to perform additional professional engineering services related to current and anticipated future projects at the Executive Director’s discretion," according to an updated statement released to 2 On Your Side on Monday afternoon. 

The spokesperson also confirmed that the state DEC's investigation requires a professional report to be delivered from the Water Board. It appears the Water Board retained AECOM in order to create that report. 

State Senator Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) said he will push for the report to be made public when it's completed.

"It's certainly disappointing, the notion that we have to spend more money on something you wouldn't want to have to spend money on to begin with," Ortt said. "But, yeah, maybe this will give us an answer as to what happened."

This announcement follows action by the Niagara County Legislature late last week passing three non-binding resolutions calling for criminal investigations into the black sludge incident in the Falls. 

Last week, the Niagara Falls Water Board released a statement in response to a State Department of Environmental Conservation announcing it will investigate the black, smelly water released into the lower Niagara River. In the statement, the water board said the discharge was due to "routine maintenance of one of its wastewater sedimentation basins, but the work is usually done during a different time."

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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