Study of Buffalo River Takes New Direction

Buffalo State College Awarded Grant to Advance Research

Posted: September 4, 2007
Buffalo State College has been awarded $308,980 in federal funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance research that is essential to the evaluation of remediation options for the lower Buffalo River, in particular selective removal of contaminated sediment. Faculty from Buffalo State College and Middlebury College, Vermont, will serve as Principal Investigators for the project.

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program award will be used to purchase equipment to increase our understanding of lake-river interactions that are related to temporary changes in lake level caused by winds piling water up at the Buffalo end of Lake Erie-a well-known phenomenon known as a seiche. Recent findings from research conducted by Buffalo State researchers support the role of lake seiche in generating reverse currents in the Buffalo River. These reverse currents are strong enough to transport river-bottom sediment.

"Understanding the seiche-driven current regime is essential for making informed and lasting remediation decisions," said Jill Singer, Professor of Earth Sciences and Science Education, Buffalo State College. "For example, environmental benefits derived from the costly removal of contaminated sediment from the middle and upper reaches of the Buffalo River could be reduced if reverse currents transport contaminated sediments upriver and re-contaminate the site."

Specific equipment to be purchased includes: 1) multiple acoustic Doppler current profilers, surface meteorologic sensor packages, bottom water temperature sensors and associated hardware to initially install five observational systems along the lower Buffalo River; and 2) a laser diffraction-based, grain size analysis system.

The Buffalo River is a designated Area of Concern (AoC), heavily impacted by industrial wastes and bottom sediments that sequester a large variety of inorganic and organic compounds. Researchers and scientists at Buffalo State College have been actively involved in the study and remediation of the Buffalo River for over 15 years.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science." The NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities.

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