BUFFALO,NY- " The health of our water affects the health of our selves and our community, and we cannot have a thriving economy without a thriving and healthy environment , it goes hand in hand, it's not one or the other other...water, it connects all of us"
It is one of the foundations of life, yet all too often we ignore it's importance, always at our own risk. In WNY, a prime example of an abused and forgotten waterway is Scajaquada Creek. Fed by the Jubilee Spring, which was once an important water source for the city, much of the creek now lies buried under ground and suffers from a history of environmental affronts.
" It was so bad, that in 1922 the citizens of Buffalo had actually voted, and said that the creek must go," Explains Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. "Because it was such a health hazard, it was so disgusting, it was such a conduit for waste and everything else, that the residents at the time buried three and a half miles of the creek underground. To this day there are entire communities that are on top of Scajaquada Creek that don't even realize it, that aren't connected to it."
The creek today still struggles mightily. Pollution in some areas mars it's inherent beauty,but help is on the way. A group of community organizations, headed by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper,are taking the first steps to cure the ills that plague this once beautiful creek.
" We need to remove the toxic contamination from the sediment that are still in the lower Scajaquada. We need to remove the Botulism toxins that are still in the sediment." Says Jedlicka.
" The sewer problem is still a major problem for us with combined sewer overflows flowing into the Scajaquada, but as we've seen this year, and as it's emerging, the use of green infrastructure, which is keeping stormwater out of the system, it's reducing those overflows, and so we will reduce and minimize the bacterial input into the waterways."
The effort is going beyond the several groups involved, and now extends to the city's populace. Citizen science is going to play an important part in nursing the Scajaquada back to health.
Jedlicka tells 2 The Outdoors that a marker has been placed in the creek on in Forest Lawn Cemetary to monitor the water levels. And every one of us can contribute to this gathering of information." All you have to do is have a cell phone in your pocket, you pull it out, you look at the meter, and you text the measurement that you see. The whole thing takes about twenty seconds, and you've actively contributed to the scientific knowledge of this creek."
And while you're there at Forest Lawn taking part in this project, take a look around, you'll find evidence of the Scajaquada's once great beauty, and reconnect with an important piece of the local environment that is poised to make a remarkable recovery.
" All it takes is that one little spark, that one little project that people can grab on to, and say, ok, this can be the start of something big, and that's what we've started to do here with Forest Lawn.