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Popular Buffalo & WNY waterways contaminated by bacteria

Investigative Post found authorities are doing next to nothing about unsafe readings in waterways used for recreational purposes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — E. Coli is a nasty waterborne bacteria that can cause illness. Authorities close beaches when levels exceed safety limits. But they’re doing next to nothing about unsafe readings in waterways used for recreational purposes.

There’s a particular problem with the Black Rock Canal, popular with fishermen, the occasional swimmer and, most notably, the West Side Rowing Club and high school and college crew teams. E. Coli readings consistently exceed safe limits — by up to 14 times  — established by the federal government.

“There are people coming in contact with water with E. Coli from human feces every single day,”  Wendy Paterson of the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper told Investigative Post.

Unsafe E. Coli readings aren’t limited to the Black Rock Canal:

  • Levels this spring in the Buffalo River — in front of Buffalo Riverworks, a popular restaurant and event complex — exceeded the safe threshold by 13 times. One test last year registered at 85 times the acceptable limit.
  • Readings taken earlier this summer in Cazenovia Creek exceeded the acceptable limit by up to twentyfold. Last year, one test came in at 85 above the safe level.
  • A half-mile downstream from where the Black Rock Canal flows into the Niagara River, readings were 43 times the safe limit at Black Rock Canal Park, located at the foot of Ontario Street. The park serves as a boat launch, among other uses.
  • Readings taken this year in six other waterways, many of them used for recreation, also exceeded the safety threshold. Among them are Scajaquada, Ellicott and Eighteen Mile creeks.

For more on this story, please visit the Investigative Post website.