Eighteenmile Creek River
U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2
New York, NY 10007-1866
State RAP Contact
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203
Roy Knapp & Theodore Belling
Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District
4487 Lake Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094
Victor F. DiGiacomo Jr
Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District
4487 Lake Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094
- Atlantic States Legal Foundation
- Ecology and Environment Inc.
- Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee
- Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FL-LOWPA)
- Great Lakes Research Consortium
- Great Lakes United
- International Joint Commission
- Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP)
- Lake Ontario Sportfishing Promotional Council
- NYS Canal Corporation
- NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets
- NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
- NYS Department of Health
- Niagara County Department of Health
- Niagara County Department of Planning & Economic Development
- Niagara County Department of Tourism
- Niagara County Government
- Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District
- Niagara County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
- Niagara University's Environmental Leadership Institute
- Sea Grant
- Sierra Club
- State University of New York (SUNY)
- Town of Newfane
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Buffalo District
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Region 2
- U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Programs Office (GLNPO)
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; LGLFRO
- USDA Farm Service Agency
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Upstate Freshwater Institute
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
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The Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern (AOC) is located in the Town of Newfane, Niagara County, in western New York State. The creek flows from the south and discharges through Olcott Harbor into Lake Ontario, approximately 18 miles east of the mouth of the Niagara River. The AOC includes Olcott Harbor at the mouth of the creek and extends upstream to the farthest point at which backwater conditions exist during Lake Ontario’s highest monthly average lake level. This point is located just downstream of the Burt Dam, approximately 2 miles south of Olcott Harbor. The Eighteenmile Creek watershed downstream of the Burt Dam is primarily composed of cropland, orchards and residential areas. Upstream of the Burt Dam, the watershed is composed mainly of cropland and orchards, with residential and commercial areas like the historically industrialized City of Lockport.
As of January 1, 2005, the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation
District has taken over as coordinator of Eighteenmile Creek’s
Remedial Action Plan (RAP). The District also assists the
Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) by facilitating
their quarterly meetings and providing staff support towards the
implementation of the creek’s RAP. For more information about the
RAC and the RAP, please visit www.eighteenmilerap.com, or see
Community Involvement below.
Priorities for the Eighteenmile Creek continue to include track-down of possible sources of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and other contaminants, identification and assessment of contaminated sediments present throughout the creek, and the assessment of Beneficial Use Impairments which remain classified as "unknown" and "likely." The Eighteenmile Creek corridor and Olcott Harbor provide important riparian and aquatic habitat for cold and warm water fish as well as threatened species like the Blanding’s Turtle, which has been identified in the AOC. The AOC is mainly characterized by activities like sport fishing and attracts approximately 15,000 anglers yearly, especially during fall salmon runs. For these reasons, additional priorities for Eighteenmile Creek include habitat creation and restoration as well as improved fishing and recreation access.
Why was this area listed as an AOC?
In 1985 Eighteenmile Creek was designated as an AOC because of water quality and bottom sediment problems associated with past industrial and municipal discharge practices, the disposal of waste and the use of pesticides. Over the years, numerous contaminants have been identified in creek sediments which have a detrimental effect to the AOC and Lake Ontario. These contaminants include but are not limited to; Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs); Mercury; Dioxins and Furans; Dieldrin; Mirex; DDT; Lead; and Copper. Sediments contaminated with these substances have contributed to the restrictions of fish and wildlife consumption, degradation of benthitic organisms, and restrictions on dredging activities in the AOC. It is also suspected that these contaminated sediments contribute to a degradation of fish and wildlife populations, the presence of fish tumors, and the prevalence of bird and animal deformities or reproductive problems.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
In addition, three beneficial uses need further assessment to determined their status:
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations (further assessment needed)
- Fish tumors or other deformities (further assessment needed)
- Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems (further assessment needed)
Through the Remedial Action Planning (RAP) process
the Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) and the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)
identified several of the 14 priority beneficial uses set forth by
the International Joint Commission as being impaired. Confirmed
beneficial use impairments in the AOC include Restrictions on Fish
and Wildlife Consumption, Degradation of Benthos, and Restrictions
on Dredging Activities. Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive
Problems is classified as "likely" at this time. Additional
beneficial use impairments currently classified as "unknown" include
Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations and the Presence of
Fish Tumors or Other Deformities.
Prior to 2002, the status of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Populations in the AOC was "unknown." A June 2002 study of the plankton community conducted by SUNY Brockport Center for Applied Aquatic Science and Aquaculture confirmed that the plankton use impairment indicator was not impaired.
Restrictions on Fish
and Wildlife Consumption:
A fish consumption advisory has been imposed in the Eighteenmile Creek AOC due to PCB contamination. Fish that migrate from Lake Ontario are present in the AOC as well. An advisory exists for Lake Ontario as well due to PCB, Mirex and Dioxin contamination Advisories are as follows:
- Restrictions indicate that there is to be no human consumption of any fish species and/or American eel of any size.
- Women of child bearing age and children under the age of 15 should not consume snapping turtles because of possible PCB contamination.
- Restrictions indicate that there is to be no human consumption of American eel, channel catfish, carp, lake trout over 25", brown trout over 20", and Chinook salmon.
- Restrictions indicate that no more than one meal per month should be consumed consisting of white sucker, rainbow trout, smaller lake trout, smaller brown trout and coho salmon over 25".
Degradation of Benthos:
Past studies have evaluated the toxicity of sediments as well as the species makeup of benthic organisms in the AOC. In general, the results indicate that sediments in the AOC are less contaminated than those upstream of it. They also show that in most parts of the AOC the surface sediments are more contaminated. Microtox measurements taken in the AOC suggest possible sediment toxicity. The assessment of the number and species diversity of the benthic organisms in the AOC indicates a slight to moderate impairment.
Restrictions on Dredging Activities:
Maintenance dredging for recreational boating in the AOC has been determined to be impaired. Interim guidance values for sediment contamination for both the EPA and DEC are exceeded. Pollutants consist of chromium, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, zinc, cyanides, mercury and benzo(a)anthracene. Dredged materials from the mid-point of the harbor area are unsuitable for open lake disposal.
Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems:
The likely status of this use impairment is caused by the presence of PCBs, DDT and some other contaminants exceeding wildlife criteria. Concentration in adult fish flesh and the concern for bioaccumulation will require further study of this use impairment.
Fish Tumors or Other Deformities:
The Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District has recently completed a plan to assess the prevalence of fish tumors in AOC fish populations and is currently seeking grant monies needed to fund a fish pathology study required to determine the status of this use impairment.
Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations:
Historical information indicates portions of the creek were polluted and fish populations were degraded. The Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District has recently completed a plan to assess the status of fish and wildlife populations in the AOC and is currently seeking grant monies to fund a population survey required to determine the status of this use impairment.
The Eighteenmile Creek RAC is in the process of collaborating with the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District to determine suitable and attainable delisting targets for the AOC. Utilizing criteria released by the International Joint Commission, the two entities will collaborate with various federal and state agencies to achieve success. It is important to remember that the Eighteenmile Creek AOC is affected mostly by the area upstream of the AOC and the backwater conditions of Lake Ontario. At the very least delisting targets will need to be synonymous with the attainable goals of both of these sources. For updates as to the status of Eighteenmile Creek’s delisting targets, please visit www.eighteenmilerap.com .
RAP Development and Status
Development of the Eighteenmile Creek RAP was initiated in March of 1994. A combined final Stage 1 and Stage 2 RAP document was completed and published in August 0f 1997 by NYSDEC in cooperation with the Eighteenmile Creek RAC. Efforts to complete this publication included conducting two RAP review workshops, public information and comment meetings, field trips, as well as numerous committee meetings. A RAP Status Report document was completed by the NYSDEC in June of 2001. A Status Report document is scheduled for completion in December 2005 by the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Significant RAP Milestones
- 2005: Eighteenmile Creek AOC Report Card (PDF)(2pp, PDF 761K, 2pp] completed.
- 2005: Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District takes over as lead agency for development and oversight of Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Action Plan (RAP).
- 2001: Eighteenmile Creek RAP Status Update [PDF 4.24MB, 38pp] completed.
- 1997: Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Action Plan (RAP) [PDF 10.78MB, 70pp] completed.
- 1993: Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee established.
Eighteenmile Creek Watershed Project Catalogue (PDF) (3pp, 11K) has a complete list of projects.
Recent progress and achievements
- 2005: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Environmental Remediation and the Niagara County Department of Health initiated a comprehensive trackdown sampling project for various contaminants in the area of the Flintkote Plant Site. This site is linked to unknown contaminant sources that are emitting various concentrations of PCBs, mercury and lead into Eighteenmile Creek. The results of this trackdown study will aid in the identification and hopefully remediation of these sites.
- 2005: As of May 2005, the Guterl Steel Landfill Site is now included in the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). FUSRAP is a federal program designed to cleanup sites that became contaminated with low levels of residual radioactivity during the nation’s early atomic energy program over 50 years ago. In 1999, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a Preliminary Assessment (PA) of the site, which included a review of radiological data that was part of a survey prepared for the United States. Though the Corps has determined that there is no immediate health risk posed by AEC or Manhattan Engineer District (MED)-related contaminants at the site, the agency has determined that radiological contamination in excess of current federal and state standards exist at the site. This means that there is a high probability that remedial action would be needed before any future development of the property.
- 2005: During 2001, Delphi Harrison Radiator installed additional monitoring wells to further define the nature and extent of the groundwater contamination plume associated with its TCE site. The Remedial Investigation and focused Feasibility Study Reports have since been completed by Delphi and reviewed by the DEC. The DEC issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the site in March 2005 which called for a remedy consisting of Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) for groundwater contamination. The ROD includes a Site Management Plan (SMP) to protect current and future site users. An intensive groundwater monitoring program will be developed for the site as well.
- 2005: The Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) is re-vitalized and again meeting on a quarterly basis.
- 2004: The Eighteenmile Creek Restoration Project is awarded a 2004 New York State Governor’s Waterfront Re-Discovery Award.
- 2004: For its success and diversity of project partners, the Eighteenmile Creek Streambank Stabilization & Habitat Restoration Project is awarded the 2004 USDA Team Excellence Award.
- 2004: Phase I of the Eighteenmile Creek Streambank Stabilization & Habitat Restoration Project is completed. To address the problems associated with the creek, Niagara County Department of Economic Development and numerous project partners implemented a pilot project for habitat restoration over a one-mile reach of the AOC below the Burt Dam. This project was designed to be the first critical step in creating sustainable fisheries in, and improving access to, Eighteenmile Creek. The long-term goals of the project included the restoration of the physical, biological and chemical integrity of the entire creek ecosystem, and the eventual delisting of Eighteenmile Creek as an AOC.
- 2003: Following the completion of a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study at the AKZO Chemical Site, a Corrective Measures Study Report was completed and submitted to the NYSDEC for public review. The NYSDEC anticipates closure certification and corrective action approval by July 2005.
- 2003: The City of Lockport developed a Combined Sewer Overflow Assessment for their sewer system, which included measurements of the volume, duration and impact of CSOs on Eighteenmile Creek.
- 2002: Three projects within the City of Lockport sewer system were developed and funded by the New York State Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act for the reduction of combined sewer overflows. The Vine-North Sewer project installed new sanitary sewers in the northeastern portion of the city resulting in the separation of Stormwater from the combined sewer system. The Ohio-Simonds Sewer Project constructed new storm sewers in the west central portion of the city resulting in separation of Stormwater from the combined sewer system. The Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project constructed a new clarifier at the treatment plant to increase the capability to treat wet weather flows from the combined sewer system.
- 2001: Under a grant funded by U.S. EPA--GLNPO, SUNY Brockport Department of Biological Sciences conducted an investigative study of the plankton community in the Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern. The results of the plankton study establish that the plankton use impairment indicator is not impaired. A presentation by the author, Dr. Joseph Makarewicz, was provided to the Eighteenmile Creek RAC in 2002.
- 2001: Following the completion of Phase II studies, the Norton Labs and Diamond Shamrock sites were delisted from the list of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites in the Eighteenmile Creek watershed due to the absence of hazardous waste.
Current projects and outlook
- The Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) is in the process of adopting written guidelines, ground rules, and participant responsibilities as well as delisting criteria for the identified impaired beneficial uses of the creek.
- Initial planning and design of Phase II of the Eighteenmile Creek Streambank Stabilization and Habitat Restoration Project is underway. Phase II consists of the construction of a low flow deflector/fishing access wall to re-define and narrow the channel to its former configuration, re-establishment of 30,000 square feet of wetland habitat, and the creation of additional aquatic habitat through the placement of numerous hydraulic coverstones in the creek. This project is a joint effort of the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District, Niagara County Public Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NYSDEC, Town of Newfane, the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance, and the Eighteenmile Creek RAC.
- The Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District has secured funds from the U.S. EPA--GLNPO to conduct PCB source track-down related sampling downstream of the Clinton Street Dam, in the City of Lockport, NY. Track-down sampling will consist of sediment core extraction in potential hot spots to characterize upstream and down stream differences in concentration and hopefully pinpoint sources of contaminants currently unknown.
- With the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ecology & Environment Inc., the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District has taken the second step in initiating the development of a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan for the Eighteenmile Creek watershed. As part of the restoration project, a management plan concept document was completed by Ecology & Environment Inc. for Eighteenmile Creek.
- With assistance from SUNY Brockport Department of Biological Sciences, the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District is completing a two-year investigation of the baseline and storm event sediment and nutrient loading in Eighteenmile Creek. Monitoring of water quality in the creek was performed via a fixed monitoring station and grab samples. Sampling parameters included total phosphorus, total suspended solids, sodium, nitrate, nitrite and total kjeldahl nitrogen.
- The Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District is in the process of completing an Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program Tier I/ II inventory of farms in the Eighteenmile Creek watershed. The AEM inventory establishes a foundation for identifying the Best Management Practices (BMP) needed to address farm needs. It also establishes a framework for providing farmers with financial, technical and other assistance they need to reduce non-point source pollution and protect water quality.
Implementation of the Eighteenmile Creek RAP is a continuous process that will include periodic updates and improvements as knowledge of the use impairments, sources and the effectiveness of remedial actions increases in the future. Remedial actions will be evaluated and coordinated as to the impacts on restoration of beneficial uses. Within the AOC and watershed, a number of studies and assessments mentioned above will continue to be priorities. These include fish and wildlife consumption restrictions, habitat creation, sediment investigations and contaminant track-downs. Restoring and maintaining an improved quality of life in the ecosystem of the Eighteenmile Creek AOC and its watershed is the ultimate goal.
Restoration Monitoring Plan for the Eighteenmile Creek Habitat Restoration Project
[PDF 6.20MB, 28pp]
- 2005: Eighteenmile Creek AOC Factsheet #1 [PDF 24K, 1 page]
- 2005: Eighteenmile Creek AOC Factsheet #2 [PDF 23K, 1 page]
- 2000: The State of the New York Lake Ontario Basin: A Report on Water Resources and Local Watershed Management Programs [PDF 2.40MB, 122pp]
The Niagara County
Soil & Water Conservation District maintains an online repository of AOC-related
An Eighteenmile Creek Documents, Reports & Data table provides a listing of RAP-related documents by title, date, type, availability and source.
The Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) is a group of local officials, landowners, and stakeholders selected by the commissioner of the NYSDEC to provide a balanced representation of various segments of the community along the creek. Initially, the RAC worked cooperatively with the NYSDEC to organize, develop and review the RAP and create public awareness and support for Eighteenmile Creek. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the RAC to:
- Advise RAP management in identifying and updating priorities for RAP implementation activities;
- Advise RAP management in the preparation and approval of RAP documents;
- Assist RAP management in building a stakeholder base for implementation of RAP recommendations;
- Review and comment on current environmental initiatives and issues affecting the RAP;
- Assist in developing and seeking funding for a list of activities requiring funding; and
- Advise RAP management on social and economic impacts of RAP implementation.
The RAC has been instrumental in the development of the RAP and
the implementation of public outreach activities. These activities
have maintained the continued involvement and interest of the
organizations represented on the RAC and built general interest and
support for the RAP in the community.
The Newfane Intermediate School and Town of Newfane Environmental Fair is an annual event that occurs within the Eighteenmile Creek AOC. Every year, students travel down to the creek where they are broken up into groups and rotated through seven learning stations. Each learning station provides the students with information on such topics as conservation facts, wildlife rehabilitation, water quality protection, tree and shrub planting and the restoration of Eighteenmile Creek.