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Tonawanda Creek

June 12, 2018 - 2:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Walnut Street, Tonawanda Creek, batavia, news.


Erik Saluste is looking for some help from the city in keeping people off his property at 5 Walnut St., Batavia.

He said trespassers are a huge and consistent problem. 

His property backs up to the Tonawanda Creek and he doesn't want people on his land when they want to sightsee, fish, or kayak on the creek.

"People think that all the houses on Walnut Street, Route 98, that back against the creek allow public access," told the City Council last night during public comments. "There is no public access. My property line extends to where the creek ends. I’ve posted no trespassing signs on my property."

He said he's had to call police about trespassers four times already this year.

He said he brought the issue to the City Council four years ago and nothing happened. He said he applied for a building permit to install a fence on his property line and it was denied.

He took that as the city asserting easement rights but he said the city has no easement rights. The state has easement rights 50 feet in from the creek and that he was told he could build structures within the easement, but if the state needed the structures removed for flood control measures he would have to remove the structures.

Interim City Manager Matt Worth said he will need to research it but he believes the state might be concerned about a fence catching tree limbs and other debris that could contribute to a flooding issue.

Saluste thinks a fence from the footbridge to 1 Walnut might help alleviate the problem and said he would be willing to help pay for it. He said the problem is a huge privacy and liability issue for him.

"You do have to realize that until I have satisfaction in this area I’m going to continue to call Batavia Police Department every time I have somebody (trespassing)," Saluste said. "I’m not going to confront them anymore because they’ve almost become physical on certain occasions and I don’t want that to happen."

The council instructed Worth to look into the issue further.

UPDATE: Felipe Oltramari, county planning director, brought this to our attention:

Per DEC’s website (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8371.html): “If a waterway is navigable in fact, the right to public navigation authorizes a boater to get out of the boat to pull it around obstacles or to get around obstacles by portaging over private property, so long as the portage is by the most direct and least intrusive safe route possible.”

This property is right at the dam so a kayaker or canoer could come ashore legally on Mr. Saluste’s land for the purposes of getting around the dam while navigating the creek.  

PHOTO: Screen grab from county's GIS map, shows, from the top, 1 Walnut, 3 Walnut, and 5 Walnut.

January 12, 2018 - 7:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Tonawanda Creek, batavia, news.

The National Weather Service has warned of possible flooding as the Tonawanda Creek through Batavia nears the 9-foot level.

Currently, the water level, as measured at the bend behind the County Courthouse, is 8.64 feet.

It's been on a steep climb since 7 a.m.

It's expected to crest at 9.1 feet.

The minor flood stage is 9 feet.

Kibbe Park is expected to flood, and possibly Walnut Street and Law Street.  

There is flooding in Alexander and the Town of Batavia along the creek.

There is a flood warning in effect until 1 p.m.

November 7, 2017 - 10:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek, batavia, weather, news.


The Tonawanda Creek crested at 11.27 feet, well into the moderate flood level, at about 10 p.m. and has since dropped to under nine feet.

Law Street is being reopened with the water's receding.

Higher crests over the previous 10 years are 11.94 feet in December 2013 and 11.72 feet in December 2008. The highest crest on record was 14.5 feet, March 1, 1942.

Below are two flood photos, from North Pembroke Road, submitted by Michael Quaranto.



September 16, 2017 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek, batavia, news.


Craig Gillard sent in this picture of a couple of men fishing the Tonawanda Creek in Batavia this morning.

August 9, 2017 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, news.

The Sheriff's Office would like to unite a rowboat with its owner after the small craft was found on the Tonawanda Creek in the area of Kiwanis Park and Wortendyke Road.

There's no indication that anybody fell out of it and there's been no missing person report, said Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble, so at this point, Dibble thinks it likely became unmoored from its dock somehow.

The Sheriff's Office is asking that if you're missing a boat and think it might be yours, call Deputy Kevin McCarthy (585) 345-3000, ext. 3237.

Be prepared to provide a detailed description.

July 14, 2017 - 10:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Tonawanda Creek, batavia, news, notify.


The water level on the Tonawanda Creek, as measured by the station behind the Genesee County Courthouse, peaked at just under 10 feet at about 8 p.m. and started to recede by 9 p.m., according to measurements captured by the USGS.

A flood alert remains in effect until Saturday morning.

July 14, 2017 - 2:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tonawanda Creek, flooding, weather, news.

This photo of the nearly cresting Tonawanda Creek was taken about 20 minutes ago on Law Street by Howard from his cell phone.

The creek has been rising all day. The National Weather Service predicted earlier today that the Tonawanda would crest at 9.4 feet this afternnoon. Flood stage is considered to be 9 feet.

Tom Lichtenthal, assistant engineer for Town of Batavia, was also out at the Law Street bridge and reported that the water level now is 9.85 feet and it is expected to crest within the hour at 10.4 feet. Afterward, the waters will start to recede.

He said no major flooding problems are expected. 

But he said engineers are concerned about a large tree trunk that is floating, but lodged in the creek. They are concerned that it could wedge free and float downstream to where the River Street Bridge project is underway.

A natural gas main under the bridge has been lowered by three feet to accommodate summer construction, when rains this heavy are not typical. There's some worry that large floating debris -- like a big tree trunk -- could strike and damage the gas line. So a crew from National Fuel is on scene now, working to raise the gas line to where it normally would be, says Lichtenthal.

Impacted areas of flooding also include Kibbe Park and Walnut Street. Below are photos taken a few minutes ago at Kibbe Park. 





Three more pictures added -- River Street Bridge area and behind the courthouse.

July 14, 2017 - 10:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Tonawanda Creek, batavia, alexander, Alabama, notify, news.


At 9 a.m., the water level of the Tonawanda Creek, measured behind the courthouse, was 8.5 feet and rising, according to the National Weather Service.

Flood stage is 9 feet.

The creek is expected to crest at 9.4 feet this afternoon.

Impacted areas include Kibbe Park, Law Street and Walnut Street.  

Also, expect flooding in the rural areas of Alexander and the Alabama Swamps.

June 16, 2016 - 12:33pm
posted by Zachary Lee in batavia, River Street Bridge, Tonawanda Creek, news.

The River Street Bridge over the Tonawanda Creek, which is owned and maintained by Genesee County, received more than $2 million in federal aid to help develop a plan to rehabillitate the structure.

The total estimated cost to rehab the bridge is $2,155,000, divided between three seperate funds:

  • 80 percent funded by Federal Highway Administration
  • Estimated 15 percent funded by New York State Department of Transportation
  • Estimated 5 percent funded by local share (taxpayers)

At an information meeting at City Hall Wednesday night, County Highway Superintendent Timothy Hens said the project would take between four to six months and will begin next June. Construction will take place in eight-hour shifts beginning at 8 a.m.

The bridge was built in 1975. Senior project engineer Jonathan M. Walczak said one of its fault is that the joints were placed at the bottom of the beams and the saltwater and severe weather of Western New York winters took its toll on the bridge joints. He proposes raising the joints so that it's harder for salt and river water to reach them.

A River Street resident asked about raising the actual roadway of River Street and Walczak replied "It's so flat out here, the geometrics just won't let us raise the bridge." 

The engineer's team is already in contact with National Fuel talking about the eight-inch natural gas main; the gas main will be maintained.

River Street residents debated about how handicapped individuals who live at the Birchwood Village Apartments would get to work without bridge access, since several of them work at Tops Market in Batavia.

"I will try to be in touch with local employers to see if we can get an alternate way of transportation," Walczak replied.

Residents suggested installing a temporary sidewalk and Walczak seems open to such ideas.

He was also asked about the dimensions of the sidewalk, five-feet wide, and bridge railing, 45-inches high, and said both will be kept the same.

River Street resident Nann Zorn wasn't at the meeting but wrote to Highway Superintendent Hens espressing concern about the bridge's months-long closure.

"There are hundreds of pedestrains who use this bridge every day as a main route to their employment and to obtain provisions and necessities for their daily lives," Zorn wrote.

That sparked spirited debate on whether it was possible to keep a temporary path open over creek during bridge reconstruction. The proposed detour would be approximately 1.7 miles long and consist of using West Main Street, Oak Street and Pearl Street instead.

August 3, 2015 - 9:21am
posted by JIM NIGRO in nature, outdoors, full moon, sunrise, Tonawanda Creek.

There's plenty to be said for rising early. In the above photo, rays of sunlight permeate our yard as the sun begins its ascent.

The calm of early morning provides a mirror image on a placid surface.

Mist rises from a stretch of Tonawanda Creek. Regardless the time of day, this is always a nice spot to take photos as little light penetrates the treetop canopy.

Gathering clouds have a filtering effect and cast a pale-orange glow on the horizon.

The full moon looms large immediately after rising...........

but not until the full moon climbs high in the night sky are we bathed in soft lunar light and moon shadows.

March 11, 2015 - 10:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek.

Taken this evening at the Tonawanda spillway behind the County Courthouse.

November 25, 2014 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather, Tonawanda Creek.

The Tonawanda Creek has reached a minor flood stage of nine feet high and is expected to crest this afternoon at 9.3 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Photo from about an hour ago at the spillway behind the County Courthouse.

September 7, 2014 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek.

Chris Hausfelder spotted this egret on the Tonawanda a few days ago and was able to snap a couple of pictures of this elusive bird.

July 19, 2014 - 11:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, troop 6069, Boy Scouts.

More than 20 volunteers hauled out 180 pounds of garbage from the Tonawanda Creek this morning under the supervision of Boy Scout Alex Hansen.

The cleanup was the culmination of Alex's Eagle Scout project, which he said took a year to plan and execute.

It required the cooperation of Genesee ARC (who hauled away the garbage for free) and Sloat Tire to pick up the tires that were collected, and Alex had to coordinate the volunteers through the Tonawanda Watershed Committee and Troop 6069.

"The creek over the years has become really polluted with trash," Alex said. "People just throw tires and water heaters and even air conditioners right over the bridges in town. All this stuff gets washed to places, such as Kiwanis Park, and so we have people people cleaning because there's trash everywhere."

The 16-year-old scout said volunteers dispersed to Kiwanis Park, Kibbe Park, behind the courthouse and behind Valu Plaza.

"We think this will make a positive difference for the community because people want to enjoy the creek again," Alex said. "We want to make it a better place for people and wildlife."

May 17, 2014 - 10:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, outdoors, Tonawanda Creek.

The fish weren't biting on the Tonawanda Creek today, but that didn't stop a group of Batavia residents from having fun during an annual fishing derby organized by John Lawrence.

The water was high and swift, which made it hard to even get a nibble, but the anglers, young and older, stuck with it.

Above, Brian Mruczek with is son Lakoda.

Giana Mruczek.

Nick Grasso puts on a show like he's really hooked something big.

September 18, 2013 - 4:43pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Tonawanda Creek, nature, wood ducks, bald eagle.

The sun had barely cleared the horizon when I pulled out of the driveway Tuesday morning. And with the camera case on the seat beside me, I really wasn't sure where I was going. The last thing I expected on a rather chilly morning was a bald eagle perched in a dead tree overlooking Tonawanda Creek.

Nearly an hour earlier, while watching the news and having coffee, I mulled over where I would go. At first I contemplated going either to the swamps, Genesee County Park or dragging the canoe out back and paddling upstream on the Tonawanda. These have all been productive in the past but this morning, for some reason, I opted for something different. But still, I couldn't make up my mind on where to go....so I just got in the truck and drove. There was also a catch....I didn't have great deal of time to kill as I had an appointment at 11 a.m.

The sun was making its way up the eastern horizon when I eased down a grassy bank of the Tonawanda where it flows along Stegman Road north of the Bushville bridge. Despite the bright sun on this morning, far less light penetrates shoreline canopy in this stretch. That would change farther downstream. The rock-studded shoreline is a good indication this is smallmouth territory.

Steam rising off the surface -- a good indication the water was considerably warmer than the chilly 45 degree air.   

Farther downstream is where I came across the bald eagle -- in surroundings more suitable for surveying its domain, scanning the creek and the surrounding area for a meal. Fish, muskrats, rabbits -- when you have a bill and talons that big and sharp, the menu is limitless.

Turning its head nearly 180 degrees enables him to watch his backside and prevent potential prey from slinking past.

Further upstream, blended in among fallen limbs, a trio of wood ducks are oblivious to the threat from above. 

Taking leave of their temporary haven, the woodies wisely head upstream -- toward the cover of the canopy.

July 31, 2013 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek.

Information and photos provided by Elizabeth Bentley-Huber.

Boy Scouts Tristan Korzelius, Jake Houseknecht and Ryan Missel installed storm drain markers in the City of Batavia on Saturday as part of an ongoing effort by the Tonawanda Creek Watershed Committee to remind people that what goes down storm drains has a direct impact on the quality of water in the Tonawanda.

A dozen volunteers installed 253 medallions over storm drain inlets throughout the city.

Tonawanda Creek committee members and local volunteers have also installed these markers in the Village of Attica, hamlets of Varysburg, North Java and Johnsonburg. Last year members installed medallions in the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

If you are interested in joining this effort or have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Bentley-Huber at Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District at 585-343-2362 or at [email protected].

Kirk Peryea and Lucy Pietrzykowski

Kirk Peryea, Lucy Pietrzykowski, Greg Houseknecht, Jake Houseknecht, Tristan Korzelius, Ryan Missel, Robert Cassatt, Molly Stetz. Absent: James Tuttle, Les Winters, David Winters, Addison Winters. These volunteers installed 253 medallions over storm drains in the City of Batavia on July 27, 2013.

June 15, 2013 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek.

A person was rescued from the Tonawanda Creek at 9:30 a.m. in the area of 63 Walnut St., Batavia.

City Fire Department responded to the call and located a semiconscious man in the water who was being held by a bystander.

The victim was removed from the water by firefighters and transported to UMMC by Mercy EMS.

His name or condition has not yet been released.

June 11, 2013 - 8:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Native Americans, Tonawanda Creek, Six Nations, Iroquois.

Rick Levins says the Tonawanda Creek is a spiritual place. He's been drawn to it most of his life, he said. For more than 30 years, he's lived on its bank in a home on Walnut Street.

This spring, he started paddling it every day, finding a few moments of peace, but also preparing for a historic canoe trip next month from Albany to New York City down the Hudson River.

The trip is known as the Two Row Wampum Renewal Epic Canoe Trip and is being organized by a group of Native Americans in the Syracuse area to commemorate the first treaty between Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and Dutch traders in 1613.

"Basically, the treaty said, 'we're in our canoes, you're in your ships, we're going down the same river together, but we won't bother you, you don't bother us,'" Levins said. "That didn't always work quite so well, but the Iroquois and Haudenosaunee have honored that treaty. This is a 400-year renewal. It's the basically indigenous person saying we're losing the path here and we need to get back to some of these old ways."

Levins is half Native -- his mother was from the Six Nations in Canada -- and his cousin from Six Nations introduced him to the trip.

The journey starts July 27 and ends Aug. 9 on the United Nations Indigenous People's Day. 

Along the way, there will be seminars and lectures. The trip is intended to promote peace, friendship and environmental sustainability.

Levins has been paddling on the Tonawanda every day since the start of spring preparing for the trip. Every day, he says, he has the creek to himself. He sees geese, ducks, herons, beavers and deer and listens to the birds tweet and twitter.

"I've even seen deer swimming in the creek," Levins said. "I was going up the creek, coming around the bend, and I saw something in the water. At first, I thought it was a beaver. There's a lot of beaver in here. Well, the beaver started to get up out of the water and it turned into a deer. A nice young buck with velvet."

Because of the historic meaning of the Tonawanda to both Natives and white settlers, Levins said he's always felt a special connection to the waterway that was once an important transportation link.

"The creek holds a lot of meaning to me," Levins said. "There's so much history here."


February 27, 2013 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather, Tonawanda Creek.

It's been snowing in Genesee County pretty much continually since last night, but as you can see from the banks of the Tonawanda along West Main Street, Batavia, that there hasn't been much accumulation.

What accumulation there has been is pretty much just slush.

The Weather Service says expect more of the same through tomorrow.


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