There have been signs of hope that the Scajaquada Creek will one day become an even more beloved community asset, specifically for those residing in close proximity who now experience a “neglected dumping ground.” By downgrading the Scajaquada Expressway and redeveloping a former city auto impound, strides to give care and greater access to the creek make many apparent and some not so apparent benefits available. Yet, formalizing this reality comes with its challenges and obstacles, and a call for leadership and action has been ongoing since September of last year.
Protecting the quality of our water. It's been the commitment of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for more than 30 years. This month the organization is ramping up efforts to restore the Scajaquada Creek with the "Scajaquada September" awareness campaign.
"Scajaquada September is our attempt to re-engage the community and rally around the cleanup of this creek system", says Jill Jedlicka, Waterkeeper's Executive Director. "We have been at this for over a decade, but every once and awhile we have to remind folks that the work is still going on."
And there is a lot of work to do. The Scajaquada Creek corridor runs 13 miles through the Town of Lancaster, Village of Depew, Town of Cheektowaga and City of Buffalo. Sewage overflows, stormwater runoff, and land use issues are among the many challenges that need to be addressed.
"There are all sorts of inputs that are happening adding insult to injury to this creek", says Jedlicka. "Water flowing through Scajaquada eventually flows into the Niagara River which is our source of drinking water for many people in the northern part of Erie County and Niagara County".
Work to restore Scajaquada Creek began a decade ago on a stretch of the creek in Forest Lawn Cemetery. The restored wetlands and new access for pedestrians make the progress easy to spot with the $6 million project a catalyst for future restoration.
"Having this project right here in Forest Lawn is almost like a bullseye right in the center of Scajaquada Creek both upstream and downstream. It is going to create the momentum that we need to do the heavy lift that we need to do in Hoyt Lake or to tackle the big problem in Cheektowaga."
If you would like to take part in "Scajaquada September" you can register to help in creek cleanups on Saturday, September 19th. There is also an on-line auction for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on September 24th.
"Get your feet wet and your hands dirty. That's the best way to physically connect to our water", added Jedlicka.
Days after the call to action many involved “Volunteers spent the day sprucing up the area around sections of Scajaquada Creek” as part of World Clean Up Day and Scajaquada September. Perhaps a small start led by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, but a significant effort to redistribute power back into the hands of the community over the creek they aim to preserve. An effort that has since generated momentum to the refreshing changes possible.
The Scajaquada Creek faces various issues at hand, to meet them head on requires knowledge and insights into various aspects that directly and indirectly affect it. Scajaquada September, a one month-long awareness and appreciation campaigns one of the many ways in which various organizations have brought communities together and raised awareness. Not only to educate and bring attention to the various sections of the Creek, but to generate new found understandings and appreciations for them individually and as a collective.
“The challenges each section faces, and the vision for restoration that can only come together with the input and support from all of our voices and neighborhoods.” – BN Waterkeeper
It is estimated that nearly half a billion gallons of sewage along with untreated stormwater have been dumped off into the creek by Municipalities, a prominent problem for the ecological stability and growth that will surely continue but one which many hope to combat. Still, it’s not just wildlife and ecosystem itself that suffers, but the surrounding communities and future generations who could in turn experience many thriving and enjoyable recreational areas. With that said this is not a lost cause, it’s a battle many have actively been involved in for years Including Buffalo Byron Brown who celebrated a $2.8 million project between Main Street and Elmwood Avenue to help deal with the issues previously mentioned.
Some problems experienced in relation to the Scajaquada Creek include:
- Untreated sewage into the creek as result of significant rainfall.
- Loss of varied plant and animal life such hundreds to thousands of birds from Avian botulism.
- Loss of recreational activity (Boating, Fishing, Crew teams) on the Black Rock Canal which the Creek empties into.
- Concerning levels of habitat destruction through development projects.
- Growing levels of transmissible disease such as E. Coli.
- Changes in the water ways original course.
- Loss of economic development in adjacent communities.
The Creek itself does not only act as an individual entity, but plays into a greater network of bodies of water that affect a greater scope of entities. New York is one of the many great lake states that contributes to changes occurring in surrounding bodies of water, many of which support a great deal of North Eastern America in various ways. Many river and creek systems like the Scajaquada connect to, and or inherently affect these bodies of water in some manner. A small change to something like the Scajaquada creek can have a great impact not just at a local but regional level. The efforts have been notable but the problems are certainly still prevalent. Although, as we look towards the future it's perhaps a greater time than ever to become involved yourself. There is a great opportunity at hand for western New York to aid in the revitalization of something which we all share. It’s our hope that we can bring more together to get involved in a collaborative effort for the future of the Scajaquada Creek. By simply supporting the efforts of highway removal through organizations like the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition you can help to make an impact.