A rehash of the War of 1812?
A violation of the 1909 Canadian-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty?
An international incident?
All of the above?
The Niagara Falls, Ontario, Council met this week to demand that Niagara Falls, NY, Mayor Paul Dyster and the city Water Board do something to stop overflows of raw untreated sewage into the Niagara River that borders the United States and Canada.
On five occasions since July 29, millions of gallons of foul smelling black sludge have been discharged into the basin beneath the falls themselves, horrifying tourists, particularly those on the Maid of the Mist and Hornblower Niagara excursion boats who were unfortunate enough to be traversing the basin at the time the discharges occurred.
The discharges originated at the Niagara Falls, N.Y., Wastewater Treatment Plant, where officials have come up with excuses as flimsy as a half inch of rainfall to justify the ongoing environmental disaster.
Niagara Falls, Ont., Mayor Jim Diodati said his city is finishing up the third great tourism year in a row, welcoming millions of tourists from around the world.
He said many of the tourists do not know there are two cities carrying the name of the cataract and may not care. However, they do care about the images of sewage overflow showing up in the Niagara Gorge with an odor covering both sides of the border.
“Niagara Falls, USA, Niagara Falls, Canada – most people, as a matter of fact, don’t even know there are two Niagara Falls,” said Mr. Diodati. “The fact that they say Niagara Falls in the same sentence is definitely not a good thing. Niagara Falls and Nick Wallenda, that’s great. Niagara Falls and Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa, that’s a good thing. But definitely we don’t want to have sewage in that same sentence.”
Mayor Diodati said that the Ontario government, as well as the Canadian federal government, is taking the matter most seriously.
“Wayne Gates, our member of Provincial Parliament, has requested to address the City Council and he told me one of the things he wants to talk about is the discharging into the Niagara River of sewage,” said the mayor. “So he’s brought it up already in Toronto, at Queens Park, and at the Provincial Legislature.”
Mr. Gates has been very vocal in demanding the provincial government push New York State to do something about the sewage problem – something he can do as a member of the legislative minority in the provincial government. Mr. Diodati said an image of Niagara Falls as a gorgeous spectacle is an important asset that needs to be protected.
Meanwhile, on this side of the river, the silence has been deafening. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said little of consequence about the problem and Niagara Falls, N.Y., Mayor Paul Dyster has been keeping a low profile on the issue.
In a city well known for environmental disasters since the Love Canal catastrophe of 1976, Dr. Dyster originally ran on a platform of being a “green” mayor who would champion the environment here.
The reality is that he’s been anything but. In fact, he may go down in history as the pollutingest government official ever to hold office here.