Buffalo Receives $500,000 EPA Great Lakes Grant For Green Infrastructure to Improve Water Quality in Lake Erie
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the award of a $500,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to the City of Buffalo to fund green infrastructure projects to improve water quality in Lake Erie. Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator for the Great Lakes, was joined today by Congressmember Brian Higgins and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown at the offices of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper to announce the projects.
“Lake Erie’s health and Buffalo’s resurgence are tied together. Neither can exist without the other,” said Davis. “This project will result in cleaner water, reduced flooding, and a more resilient shoreline in the face of climate change.”
“Through this EPA grant, the City of Buffalo will be able to use green infrastructure to prevent stormwater from carrying contamination into Lake Erie,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Green infrastructure projects make both fiscal and environmental sense, especially for communities that need to adapt to the growing effects of climate change."
“Western New York is refocusing on the invaluable asset we have thanks to our proximity to fresh water and all around us we are experiencing economic and environmental gains as a result,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Through continued collaboration, this project will invest in Niagara Street, creating a more attractive gateway to our city and continuing our ongoing momentum to preserve and enhance our waterfront.”
"We applaud the USEPA and Congressman Higgins for supporting the City of Buffalo as a Great Lakes shoreline city that values and protects its fresh water resources through green infrastructure projects," said Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director. "The Niagara Street corridor continues toward a major transformation that will showcase Buffalo as an innovative leader in Great Lakes protection and urban waterfront revitalization."
The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Sewer Authority will use the $500,000 EPA grant, along with $500,000 in funding from Empire State Development to construct green infrastructure projects along a 1-mile section of Niagara Street. The projects include the installation of porous asphalt, stormwater planters, rain gardens and the reduction of impervious pavements. This section of roadway, which is a part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail/National Scenic Byway, currently generates untreated stormwater that drains directly to the Black Rock Navigation Channel and the Niagara River. The green infrastructure projects will capture stormwater from approximately 15 acres along the Niagara Street right of way, resulting in the control of up to 4.9 million gallons of stormwater runoff per year and a significant reduction in the amount of road salt, nutrients, oil and grease and sediment flowing into the Niagara River.
Buffalo is one of 16 cities to receive funding in the initial round of EPA’s new GLRI Shoreline Cities grant program, which is designed to improve water quality in the Great Lakes basin. These grants can be used to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of green infrastructure projects on public property.
Some 30 million Americans get their drinking water from the Great Lakes, and the lakes also support a multi-billion dollar economy based on fishing, boating and recreational activities. The lakes face significant challenges, including pollution and the threat of harmful species that threaten their health. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched at the start of President Obama’s first term to coordinate the work of 16 federal agencies to protect and restore the Great Lakes.