Discharges at the Niagara Falls Water Board wastewater treatment plant Rainbow Air

After wastewater discharges turned the base of Niagara Falls black late last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered the Niagara Falls Water Board in New York to stop any discharges from its sediment settling basin.

On Aug. 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to investigate an inky, foul-smelling discharge in the Niagara River between the American Falls and Rainbow Bridge (NYLJ, Aug. 1). The cause of the discharge in the popular tourist destination was the emptying of the sediment settling basin at the Niagara Falls Water Board wastewater treatment plant, operators have said.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the governor. a Democrat, said that the Niagara Falls Water Board must cease any discharges from the basin until the department’s investigation is completed. The water board also has to “evaluate permanent solutions” such as requiring automatic shutoff valves.

“DEC has further directed the Niagara Water Board to submit a report on the incident by Sept. 1, and we expect this investigation to be completed in the coming weeks,” Cuomo said. Earlier this month, the governor’s office said that the city of Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant didn’t notify the DEC in advance that it was going to empty the basin. If the investigation by the DEC finds that the board violated any state water quality standards, the Niagara Falls Water Board could be fined up to $37,500 per violation.

A spokesman for the water board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.