CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Town of Cheektowaga is getting a $5 million boost from the state to keep storm water out of sanitary sewers and stop raw sewage from overflowing into Scajaquada Creek, and eventually into Lake Erie.
Cheektowaga Assemblywoman Monica Wallace and State Senator Tim Kennedy announced the latest state grant, during a Thursday news conference, to seal 33 miles of underground lines in the sewer district that includes parts of Cheektowaga and the Village of Depew.
There are more than 200 miles of sewers in the consolidated district, and Depew was on the receiving end of a grant, too–$482,500 provided through New York State’s Water Quality Improvement Program.
The high-pressure process seals the inside of the sewer pipe to prevent storm water from seeping in, especially during heavy rains.
Wallace explained how the rain water infiltration can lead to an overflow, “All that water winds up getting into the sewer system and overflows the system. Then the town has no choice but to discharge that raw sewage into the Scajaquada Creek.”
Kennedy pointed out, the latest installment raises the total to $20 million in outright state grants for Cheektowaga’s sewer improvements, plus another $15 million no interest loans.
“Has already reduced the amount of raw sewage being discharged into area waterways by tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage every single year.”
But local officials said sealing the sewers is just part of the effort to keep raw sewage out of Scajaquada Creek. A consent order from the State Department of Environmental Conservation requires homeowners to disconnect their downspouts and sump pumps from their sanitary sewers which is a necessity for selling their homes.
Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said an inspection is required for every home sale, “They need to come to our office and get a permit for an inspection before their house can close, and the deed can be transferred to the new homeowner.”
Storm drains tied into sanitary sewers are illegal in New York and Cheektowaga officials have inspected about 3,000 homes for those tie-ins, which they say have held up a number of home sales.
Of the 200 miles of sewers in Cheektowaga, town officials say they have sealed about 105 miles so far, so the town is more than halfway there.