Buffalo, NY—Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that the Fiscal Year 2007 Transportation, Treasury, and HUD (TTHUD) Appropriations bill passed in the House of Representatives last night contains $1.25 million which he secured to plan and construct the Subsurface Engineered Wetland Water Quality Project. This innovative, biologically–based project will prevent pollution of the Niagara River by creating a special reed bed to treat runoff containing glycol, a chemical used in deicing solutions at the airport. Congressman Thomas R. Reynolds (NY-26) also supported Higgins’ request.
Last year, Higgins announced funding to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the project could be undertaken. The project was deemed a great solution to treat pollution and to protect the environment. This year’s TTHUD appropriations bill provides $1.25 million in funds which will be used for actual planning and construction of the project. The Fiscal Year 2007 bill represents substantial progress and will yield tangible results in the effort to make the Buffalo Airport more environmentally friendly.
The Subsurface Engineered Wetland Water Quality Project is necessary to treat non-point source glycol runoff from airside pavement at the Buffalo Airport. Currently, storm water discharges at BNIA drain directly to Ellicott Creek at the north end of the airport and to the U-Crest Ditch, a tributary of Scajaquada Creek at the south side; both of these creeks drain to the Niagara River. In recent years, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) has improved its glycol collection capability by reducing the storm water discharge into Ellicott Creek. However, by collecting more glycol wastewater, NFTA increased the volume of effluent to the Buffalo Sewer Authority, through the Town of Cheektowaga’s facilities. The existing system does not have the capacity to accommodate the increased levels of effluent.
As a result, the NFTA proposed the construction of the Subsurface Engineered Wetland Water Quality Project, for which this funding will be used. The project will preserve and enhance the water quality of Scajaquada and Ellicott Creeks, as well as the Niagara River by using an innovative, biologically-based method to treat the effluent. The Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be the first airport in the United States to implement a project like this, joining London Heathrow, Toronto and Edmonton airports in their attempt to reduce airport impact on surrounding neighborhoods and water quality.
“I am pleased that progress is being made on this important issue,” said Higgins. “Last year we were able to secure $500,000 to determine the feasibility of the project. This year we have made more progress. Western New York and our environment will benefit from funds used to begin planning and construction of the glycol runoff treatment project.”
“This is an incredibly important environmental project that will help clean up the areas surrounding the airport," said Reynolds. "Once again, Western New York is leading the way in groundbreaking efforts to provide a clean, safe environment for our families, tourists and businesses that live, visit and work here. I am proud to have supported this project with Congressman Higgins.”