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Niagara legislators seek water board resignations over wastewater fiasco

The Niagara County Legislature is calling a special meeting next week to consider four resolutions connected to the city's wastewater treatment plant's discharge of inky wastewater into the Niagara River near the base of the American Falls during a weekend afternoon at the peak of tourist season.

One resolution directly calls on Niagara Falls Water Board Chairman Dan O’Callaghan and board members Gretchen Leffler, Colleen Larkin, Renae Kimble and Nicholas Forster to resign. It also seeks the resignations of Water Board Executive Director Rolfe Porter, Wastewater Chief Operator Joe LaGamba and Superintendent of Operations Bob Drury.

The resolutions were drafted by Legislature Majority Leader Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda, and Legislators Rebecca Wydysh, R-Lewiston, Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield, and Will Collins, R-Lockport.

“The board’s conduct here is beyond defense, and they have lost our confidence,” Bradt said in a statement issued Wednesday night. He added that they will ask the county district attorney and state attorney general to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted.

Bradt cited damage that the county's $827 million-a-year tourism industry may have sustained because of the blunder.

“Since Saturday, Niagara Falls has been in every major media outlet around the country, and most around the world. The last time they got this much attention, Nik Wallenda was walking across a tightrope – and that had a massive positive economic impact on the region," he said. "We can only imagine the damage done to tourism-related businesses due to this mismanagement by the Water Board.”

Wydysh expressed concern for her constituents' health.

"People in Lewiston have a right to know why this material was flushed into the Niagara River, when the DEC is now saying it should not have been,” she said.

Bradt says he is confident that the Legislature has the votes to pass all four resolutions.



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