NY State forces town to address causes, not symptoms, to restore key waterways

New York state and Town of Cheektowaga have agreed on how to deal with the sewage flowing out of Cheektowaga and into beloved places in Forest Lawn and Delaware Park.

It’s a good thing because the situation is intolerable.

For decades, runoff from the town has fouled Scajaquada Creek and, with it, Forest Lawn’s Serenity Falls, Delaware Park’s Hoyt Lake and other cherished spots. And for decades nothing has been done. It’s been a sin compounded.

But last week, there was a meeting of the minds. The state came out on top, but whichever way it had turned out, Erie County residents were going to win.

The dispute was whether to treat the symptoms or the cause. Treating the symptoms was the town’s approach. It meant diverting the runoff into overflow storage ponds at two pump stations and making infrastructure improvements to redirect wastewater from areas prone to overflow.

DEC officials didn’t see the sense in that approach and had blocked it. They wanted to deal with the issue causing the overflow: outside infiltration and inflow into the town’s sanitary sewer system from private properties. That’s the “root of the problem,” the DEC correctly observed.

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