, Swim Guide Editor
Posted: February 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

Not even 30 years ago, the future of the Buffalo River was anything but bright. But through the hard work and dedication of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the health of the Buffalo River has improved dramatically – and we’re so proud to work with an affiliate like this. Welcome Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper to the Swim Guide!


Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is promoting swimmable, drinkable, fishable water through a number of community-based initiatives that work to restore valuable fish and wildlife habitat, improve public access through greenways, and remove pollution from our watersheds.


In 1987, the Buffalo River was designated one of the 43 most toxic hotspots in the Great Lakes. This designation led to the development of a Remedial Action Plan (RAP), and marked the beginning of a history to protect and restore this 13-km river, which empties into Lake Erie.

Buffalo River was historically the site of heavy industry. Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps

Buffalo River was historically the site of heavy industry.

At the same time, local citizens formed “The Friends of the Buffalo River” to promote the protection of the river. This group worked throughout the 1990s, eventually becoming the first nonprofit in the Great Lakes Basin to receive funding and authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate and manage the implementation of a RAP. In the early 2000s, they renamed themselves the “Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.”

The Buffalo River Watershed Today

Thanks to the hard work of environmental groups like Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Buffalo River becomes cleaner every day. Though it still faces threats from combined sewer overflows, the Riverkeeper has been combating this through their community-based Rain Barrel Program. The river’s history as the site of heavy industry is also beginning to decline.

A Sunset on the Buffalo River Overlooking a Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, Flickr

A Sunset on the Buffalo River Overlooking a Lighthouse.

The Riverkeeper

Along with their dedication to promoting watershed health and quality, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is intimately involved in their community. Their  Rain Barrel program encourages local residents to save water and reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering streams, creeks, rivers, and Lake Erie. The barrels, which collect rain that would otherwise be lost to the sewer, helps to combat problems with combined sewer systems: during heavy rain or snowmelt events, combined sewer systems are quickly overwhelmed, causing urban runoff and often sewage to be discharged into our local watersheds.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper also monitors several dozen sites around the region, sampling for a range of water quality parameters. They will be sharing the results of their data on Swim Guide.

You can read more about their programs here.

We are so happy to have Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper on board. Welcome to the Swim Guide!

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