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Home > City Departments > Buffalo Sewer Authority > Stormwater

Stormwater Program

Stormwater Program

The Authority has developed this website to inform the residents of the City of Buffalo of the Stormwater Program. The Stormwater Program’s goal is to reduce the negative impacts that can occur with stormwater pollution. Below are links to provide you with additional information:

What Is Stormwater?

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas, bare soil, and sloped lawns. As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports soil, animal waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, debris and other potential pollutants.

What’s the Problem?

Rain and snowmelt wash pollutants from streets, construction sites, and land into storm sewers and ditches. Eventually, the storm sewers and ditches empty the polluted stormwater directly into streams and rivers with no treatment. This is known as stormwater pollution.

Polluted stormwater degrades our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can cause the overgrowth of algae resulting in oxygen depletion in waterways. Toxic substances from motor vehicles and careless application of pesticides and fertilizers threaten water quality and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from animal wastes and improper connections to storm sewer systems can make lakes and waterways unsafe for wading, swimming, and fish consumption. Eroded soil is a pollutant as well. It clouds the waterway and interferes with the habitat of fish and plant life.

A Sanitary Sewer System and a Storm Sewer System are not the same!

Water that goes down a sink or other inside drains flow to either a wastewater treatment plant or to a septic system for treatment. Storm sewer flows are not treated. Water that flows down driveways, streets, and outside areas and into a storm sewer or ditch flows directly to the nearest creek, fish and wildlife habitats, downstream recreational area, and drinking water supplies.

Some common pollutants found in storm sewers and creeks include:

  • Motor oil
  • Yard clippings
  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Soapy car wash water
  • Eroded sediment from constructions projects
  • Litter
  • Animal waste

It’s important to remember that any type of surface water runoff, not just rainfall, can run into the storm sewer and collect in the stormwater management system. For example, when you wash your car on the driveway, that water ends up in the system. That’s why we need to be careful with what we put into the storm sewers as traces of all this material can end up in the stormwater system and our local waterways.

What is being done?

Stormwater runoff normally is not treated by sewage and wastewater treatment plants. More often than not, end-of-pipe controls are not the best answer for removing pollutants from stormwater runoff. Pollutants in runoff enter our waterways in numerous ways and the best way of control is usually at the pollutant’s source. Sometimes, significant improvements can be made by employing best management practices, or “BMPs”. Proper storage of chemicals, good housekeeping and just plain paying attention to what’s happening during runoff events can lead to relatively inexpensive ways of preventing pollutants from getting into the runoff in the first place and then our waterways. The U.S. EPA and NYSDEC are increasing their attention in several ways. A federal regulation, commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, requires permits for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas and for construction activities disturbing one or more acres. To implement the law, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued two permits, one for MS4s in urbanized areas and one for construction activities. The permits are part of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES). The Buffalo Sewer Authority was issued a MS4 permit in June 2003.

Western New York Stormwater Coalition

A number of communities in Western New York have joined together to develop a stormwater management program to protect our waterways and enhance our quality of life. The goal of the Coalition is to utilize regional collaboration to identify existing resources and develop programs to reduce the negative impacts of stormwater pollution. The Buffalo Sewer Authority has been a member of this coalition since 2004. For more information please visit their website at:

Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Stormwater Management Plan

The Stormwater Management Plan is based on the Federal Stormwater Phase II rule, issued in 1999, which requires municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) owners and operators, in U.S. Census-defined urbanized areas, to develop a Stormwater Management Program. There are six program elements designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable. The program elements, titled Minimum Control Measures, include:

  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Involvement / Participation
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
  5. Post-Construction Stormwater Management
  6. Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Each Minimum Control Measure and the Best Management Practices that have been implemented to maintain compliance with the NYSDEC G02-02 General Permit are described in the plan. For each Best Management Practice, responsibilities to achieve and sustain compliance are clearly defined. Portions of the work necessary are provided through the collective efforts of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition members. The remaining work is the responsibility of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s designated Stormwater Management Officer. For the complete plan click on the link: SWMP2016

Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Annual Report

The Annual Report is due June 1st. The Annual Report is available to the public for review and comment one month prior. Clink on the link below to see the annual report.

Draft 2017 Stormwater Report

Comments or Questions

If you have any comments or questions in regards to the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Stormwater Program, please feel free to call the Stormwater Management Officer at 883-1820, est. 250 or email the Stormwater Management Officer at, or write to:

Buffalo Sewer Authority
Stormwater Management Officer
90 West Ferry St.
Buffalo, New York 14213.

Upcoming Events

Annual Report Due June 2017.

Will be available May 1, 2017 for review and comment.