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Great Lakes. Great Impact. The story of the Buffalo River.

The RiverWorks project is becoming a rallying flag for the recovery of the Great Lakes. Partially due to recent clean-up efforts, the multi-million dollar development project is now being hailed an economic success story that would not have happened if the Buffalo River remained as polluted as at was in the past.

With the advent of Canalside, new micro parks, small craft operations, and thousands of people rediscovering the waterfront, it took one inspirational development, the likes of RiverWorks, to become a beacon for additional environmental funding initiatives. Now a video has been produced that signals the arrival of RiverWorks, and with it the continued efforts to restore the Great Lakes.

The video was produced by the Joyce Foundation to raise awareness in Washington and elsewhere about the import economic impact of cleaning up the Great Lakes,” says RiverWorks developer Doug Swift. “RiverWorks was one of only a few projects throughout the Great Lakes to represent.”

The following video is a testament to Buffalo’s economic and environmental recovery, which go hand in hand.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • irish dave

    Anyone know just how cleaned up the River is now?   And how much more is left to go before it’s safe to swim in?  I know there’s been this restoration and dredging happening the past several year, which is awesome (I can’t believe the river was so polluted it used to catch fire!?!?), but how much of a dent have the recent efforts made? Are we, say, 25% towards a swim-able river?  50%, 75%?   I have no clue, just really curious….

  • ex716

    Great story, great video.  Positive videos like this do have a real impact on both development and the psyche.  In some ways Buffalo was lucky to have been in the doldrums for the past 50 years because less of the authentic fabric was torn down than in many other more prosperous cities.

  • sbrof

    I think there is another year of dredging and then shoreline restoration. Figure it will take at least 3-5 years once we are done stirring the pot to allow the natural ecology of the river to take over and finish the job. Something that could never happen in the polluted state it was in. I am sure the Riverkeepers could give you a more thorough answer but that’s my intuition knowing how bad it was.

  • Wlbblw

    The rest of the environmental dredging will be done this summer after the fish spawning & bird nesting seasons. They are dredging below the 22′ Federal Channel depth so that natural silting will then take place, covering over any remaining contamination with about a 4 foot deep cap of mud between it & the river water that will not be disturbed by future maintainance dredging, or be kicked up by passing shipping traffic. Then there will also be some more shore line environmental remediation done at select sites due to contamination outside of the navigation channel from poluted land along the river. The ultimate goal is to test the river over time & when contaminate levels reach a minimum, they should be able to dump the dredge material in the lake instead of in the Containment Facility at Stony Point.

  • Wlbblw

    Just a side note on swiming, regardles of any pollution, the Buffalo River is a dangerous place to swim. Because of it’s shape, course, channel depth, & it’s relation to the lake, it has all sorts of unlredictable currents, undertows, & eddies than can easily drown even a strong swimer.