Enough with the passive beaches. Buffalo needs to figure out ways to make Lake Erie swimmable on the American side at the Outer Harbor. In order to do that, Congressman Brian Higgins and researchers from the Buffalo State Great Lakes Center have announced that funding has been secured from a New York Sea Grant to study the water quality and identify solutions.
“There is great public demand to make Gallagher Beach a full swimming beach,” said Congressman Higgins. “Although it is closed to swimming today we don’t need to sit back and simply accept that as the long-term fate for Gallagher Beach. Through new, advanced research led by the Great Lakes Center and supported by a New York Sea Grant we hope to isolate the problem-area, an essential first step in correcting the situation and eventually giving the public the full-functioning beach they are drawn to.”
Biology faculty members Gary Pettibone, professor, and Amy McMillan, associate professor, will collaborate with the Great Lakes Center as principal investigators on the project.
Gallagher Beach is currently off limits to swimmers due to high bacteria levels. But that doesn’t stop windsurfers, kayakers, sun bathers, etc. from utilizing the beach and waters. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and find out exactly what the quality of the water is, and how to remedy any issues. Whether that means solving the combined sewer overflows or dredging. Hopefully a solution is out there. Once the issue/s are identified, let’s hope that there are additional funds to take care of the water quality problems.
Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner said, “We are proud to partner with Congressman Higgins and NY Sea Grant on this important project. Congressman Higgins, our proud alum, should be applauded for his years of focused and sustained efforts toward restoring Buffalo’s wonderful waterfront. As an anchor institution in the City of Buffalo, our scientists, faculty, and associates at the Great Lakes Center are dedicated stewards of Lake Erie and its watersheds.”
Water testing in 2013 and 2014 found E.coli levels in the water around Gallagher Pier to be above allowable limits, which prompted the state to close the beach to swimming.
Scientists will use culture-independent molecular analyses to test the at-risk areas, and then test potential problematic sources, including a storm drain located 600 feet south of Gallagher Beach and a Ring-Billed Gull nesting colony site 3,800 feet southwest of the Beach. If the results from the tests match, then a solution can be sought.
New York Sea Grant Director William Wise said, “Coastal cities across the Country are aggressively expanding water-based recreational opportunities for their citizens. New York Sea Grant is pleased to support this important research by scientists from Buffalo State to determine the source of water quality impairment in the Park’s Gallagher Pier area. Documenting this source is a necessary first step in any effort to abate the impairment and make these waters safe and swimmable, for Buffalonians to fully enjoy.”
Pictured: (L-R) Buffalo State Associate Professor Amy McMillan, Congressman Brian Higgins, Buffalo State Professor Gary Pettibone