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Representatives Say New Funding Would Help Advance Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Decades-Long Effort To Restore Scajaquada Creek

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins: Fed $$$ Flowing To Help Clean Western New York’s Waters And Environment

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins today announced that the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been recommended to receive over $900,000 in federal funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate-Ready Coasts initiative to restore Scajaquada Creek Watershed. The federal funding, created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), will support community members who have long worked together to engage affected communities, enable proper outreach efforts to inform the community of a Creek Restoration and Resiliency Plan, and advance efforts to restore the habitat along the creek.

“The Scajaquada Creek Watershed is a vital waterway for Western New York communities, connecting the Black Rock Canal and Lake Erie with neighborhoods all throughout Buffalo, but for decades it’s been plagued by harmful pollution and sewage, putting the health of our communities at risk. The Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been working tirelessly to clean up our environments, and today’s NOAA investment will help supercharge efforts to restore this key watershed,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m proud to deliver this vital funding and support the ongoing efforts to clean up the Scajaquada Creek and build a cleaner more resilient future for Western New York.”

“Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper does critical work protecting and restoring Western New York’s waterways,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to announce this $900,000 in recommended funding today to help the organization restore one of the region’s most important waterways and I’ll keep fighting for more federal resources to build a cleaner and greener New York.”

“We must address climate change in order to create a better future for our community. This means making long-term investments that improve our freshwater systems and restore their natural habitats,” said Congressman Higgins. “Thanks to historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, NOAA is providing the Western New York community long-overdue resources to restore the Scajaquada Creek watershed. Serving East Buffalo, Riverside, Black Rock, and parts of Cheektowaga, funding will create a healthier future for thousands of Western New Yorkers living in these communities.”

“Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been committed to the restoration of Scajaquada Creek for more than 30 years, and with this latest momentum we are finally on an accelerated path to replicate the collaborative success we had in the Buffalo River,” said Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. “Restoring Scajaquada Creek’s habitat and resilience will in turn reconnect many communities along its corridor, but this is no small task. The transformational return to a healthy waterway requires complementing technical studies and planning with the inclusion of diverse community voices as a cornerstone to this work. NOAA has played a significant role in many other restoration efforts in the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers, and we are thankful and excited to continue to work with our federal partners on Scajaquada Creek.”

This project will not only establish a coalition of residents and organizations who have long advocated the restoration of Scajaquada Creek, but will work to ensure that the restoration yields meaningful results for those living along the creek’s surrounding communities, particularly on Buffalo’s East Side and Western Cheektowaga neighborhoods. This includes amending the Scajaquada Creek Watershed Management Plan to prioritize inclusivity, and developing an Ecological Restoration and Resiliency Plan. 

The Scajaquada Creek watershed is a 29 square mile area that includes the City of Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Depew and Lancaster. The Creek itself stretches 13 miles west from its headwaters in Lancaster to its mouth at Black Rock Canal in the City of Buffalo. Significant portions of the 13-mile creek have been altered or impaired in some way – including hardened shorelines, straightened channels, buried sections, polluted brownfields, and sewage overflows.

NOAA’s Climate-Ready Coasts initiative is deploying millions from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to fund projects in 30 coastal states that support coastal communities responding to climate change. The federal funding will go towards high-impact natural infrastructure projects that create climate solutions by storing carbon; strengthening coastal communities’ ability to respond to high-impact weather events, pollution and marine debris; restoring coastal habitats to help wildlife and humans thrive; building the capacity of underserved communities to address climate hazards and supporting community-driven restoration; and create jobs in local communities.