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Volunteers placing 'no dumping' medallions on storm drains to help keep the Tonawanda clean

By Howard B. Owens

The Tonawanda Creek is a tremendous natural resource, according to Elizabeth Bentley-Huber, and it should be kept clean.

Residents dumping pollutants into storm drains isn't as much of an issue as it once was, but Bentley-Huber, along with other members of the Tonawanda Creek Watershed Committee, want to promote the idea that our neighborhoods are linked to the creek.

"One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that the water is treated between that drain and the creek," said Bentley-Huber, who is a district technician for the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District. "Whatever pollutants and chemicals it picks up are directly washed right into the creek."

To help promote the idea that we shouldn't dump or wash chemicals into the drains, the committee has purchased through a soil and water conservation district grant, a thousand medallions to place on storm drains.

Committee members are going out each Saturday as volunteers, weather permitting, and affixing the medallions to storm drains.

Bentley-Huber said the creek could really become a bigger part of our community, an attraction for people looking for outdoor recreation.

One of the biggest problems is clearing out the 43-mile stretch (11 miles in a straight line) of creek between Attica and Batavia. Log jams on the long, flat stretch can be a big problem, especially for boaters.

"That’s a lot of nice creek," she said. "It could be open for boating, and with the economy the way it is, people are looking for more inexpensive recreation.  Boating, canoeing or kayaking on the Tonawanda would be very nice."

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