Newfane Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg said Thursday the City of Lockport's wastewater treatment plant is to blame for the frequent closures of Krull Park Beach, and he said he's got data to prove it.
Horanburg said high levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria from the Lockport sewage plant are flowing downstream in Eighteen Mile Creek, emptying into Lake Ontario and flowing east with the current to the beach.
He obtained his information when he and County Legislator John Syracuse met with Niagara County Health Department officials Thursday.
Also Thursday, the Health Department lifted the swimming ban it imposed at the beach Tuesday. It was the seventh closure since July 5.
The town took over control of the beach from the county this year. Horanburg said the constant closures "are making us look bad."
Paula Sattelberg, Lockport director of utilities, could not be reached Thursday evening, but earlier this month she denied to The Buffalo News that Lockport was responsible for the Krull Park Beach closures.
She said Lockport discharges 7 to 9 million gallons of treated sewage into the creek every day.
James J. Devald, county environmental health director, told the county Board of Health on Thursday that tests have confirmed the bacteria around the Lockport plant, and more tests are planned next week.
But the figures already gathered mean it's "case closed" as far as Horanburg is concerned.
"Don't waste the money on testing. Spend the money on cleaning up the beach," he urged.
Devald noted the Lockport sewer discharges are 13 miles from the lake.
"The question is, how far [do they travel]? We've got to go downstream and follow that down," Devald said.
He told the Board of Health, "The town expressed concerns about the City of Lockport and the fact their [sewer] discharge isn't disinfected."
Devald explained that Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, to name two local examples, are rated as Class A waterways by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Sewer plants discharging into those bodies of water must use maximum strength cleanup of the wastewater.
But Eighteen Mile Creek, into which Lockport sends its sewage, is a Class D stream. "They provide secondary treatment," Devald said.
And the Health Department's test results show that treatment doesn't eliminate E. coli and fecal coliform.
According to Horanburg, tests above the Lockport sewer plant Aug. 9 showed readings of 90 parts per million for E. coli and 300 parts per million for fecal coliform. Right at the plant's discharge pipe, both readings were 10,000 parts per million.
Downstream from the plant, although Horanburg wasn't sure exactly how far, the readings were 2,200 parts per million for E. coli and 3,000 parts per million for fecal coliform.
"It only takes 350 parts per million to close the beach," Horanburg said. "This [testing] was done in dry weather. In July, you know how dry it was, and they were still closing the beach, so it wasn't runoff," Horanburg argued.
He said there are no farms along the creek that discharge into it, although there are a few farmers that use creek water for irrigation.
Newfane's own sewer plant is on Lake Ontario east of the beach, so the current carries its discharge away from Olcott.
Devald told the board that the city's water discharge permit is coming up for renewal soon. Horanburg said he wants Lockport to follow stricter sewage treatment rules.