Scajaquada Creek: a Buffalo toilet

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Scajaquada Creek meanders through Buffalo’s most-prized park and yet it reeks of sewage and chemicals.

This creek is literally a toilet, especially after heavy rainfall.

Don’t believe me? Have a look for yourself:

Not the most pleasant part of Scajaquada Creek in Buffalo near

Not a pleasant part of Scajaquada Creek at Delaware Park.

I snapped this photograph last summer while riding my bike through Delaware Park near Hoyt Lake. I smelled something putrid and this was the source. The chemical trails made rainbows in the water. Fish, some several feet long, ate the decay and whatever else was in this mess. I came back 30 minutes later and a group of immigrants  had dropped their fishing lines near here.

Raw sewage overflows and stormwater runoff are the ongoing threats to this creek and others in the city and Erie County. The Buffalo Sewer Authority discharges raw sewage and stormwater at six spots in Scajaquada Creek. The map below shows each spot, including a bunch of others near Black Rock Canal. Lovely.

Sewer overflow points in Scajaquada Creek.

Sewer overflow points in Scajaquada Creek.

This doesn’t count the sanitary sewer overflows in the creek from Cheektowaga and Village of Depew, which are illegal according to the Clean Water Act. The two localities have had at least 262 sewer overflows into Scajaquada Creek since May, 28, 2013.

That’s right: 262!

How many gallons of sewage overflows during this period? We don’t know because Cheektowaga and the Village of Depew fail to report those details in the public records. The only time either filled in the gallons of estimated sewer overflows was on May 28, 2013, the month the law went into effect.

Maybe the embarrassment of this story had something to do with why these two localities, and a lot others, stopped reporting the gallons of estimated sewer overflows. The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act says residents have a right to this information, but the implementation of this state law so far is less than stellar.

Know of any other unfriendly, outright disgusting or mysterious environmental problems in Buffalo and Erie County? Contact me or take some photos and e-mail me at