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The EPA and the University at Buffalo Co-Host Clean Water Conference in Buffalo

Release Date: 03/14/2013
Contact Information: Michael Basile, (716) 551-4410; (646) 369-0055; basile.michael@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University at Buffalo are hosting a conference in Buffalo today to discuss how Western New York communities can utilize green infrastructure projects to improve local water quality. Among the greatest challenges to improving water quality especially in urban areas are discharges and overflows of raw sewage into our waters. Some sewer systems in Western New York, such as Buffalo’s, are combined systems that carry sewage from homes and businesses as well as rainwater collected from street drains. When they overflow during heavy rains, the rainwater mixes with sewage and results in raw sewage being directly discharged into water bodies. This can pose serious environmental and public health risks. In addition, stormwater runs off surfaces in all communities and carries pollution into local waterways.

      "Green infrastructure is a fiscally responsible answer to many urban water challenges, and helps build healthier communities," said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "The investments that communities in Western New York make today will be a catalyst for sustainable growth for years to come."

      The event, called the Western New York Green Infrastructure Forum, includes a special welcome address from EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck and University of Buffalo VP for University Life and Services, Dennis Black. It includes guest speakers, such as Buffalo Sewer Authority Commissioner Dave Comerford and representatives from Buffalo Riverkeeper and other key community groups. Deputy Onondaga County Executive Matthew Millea will speak on successful projects that have been implemented in Onondaga County, New York.

      Green infrastructure provides solutions to run off pollution using vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments. At the scale of a city or county, green infrastructure refers to the patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water. At the scale of a neighborhood or city, green infrastructure refers to stormwater management systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water.

      Discussions at the Western New York Green Infrastructure Forum include:
        • Acquiring Resources for Green Infrastructure
        • Community Action in Green Infrastructure
        • Innovations in Green Infrastructure
        • Green Infrastructure Public Private Partnerships