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Great Lakes Today was created to highlight issues affecting the lakes. The main partners are WBFO (Buffalo), ideastream (Cleveland) and WXXI (Rochester).Browse more coverage here. Major funding for Great Lakes Today is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. Additional funding comes from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Report: NY Sewer Overflows Totaled Billions of Gallons

Combined sewers at Heider Creek in Avon Lake [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]
Combined sewers at Heider Creek in Avon Lake [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

By Angelica Morrison

The problem of sewer overflows affects the entire Great Lakes region. More than 182 municipalities have systems that can release untreated sewage during big storms, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

A group called Environmental Advocates of New York analyzed sewage discharge data published by the state.

The group estimates that more than 3.8 billion gallons of sewage was released into waterways from 2013 through July 2017.

Liz Moran, the water and natural resources director for the group, says those figures could be even bigger. “Significant underreporting of overflow events continues to exist.” 

To address these issues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allocated funding to cities throughout the state this year.

But, Moran says, more is needed to limit sewer overflows.

The city of Niagara Falls got the most attention this year for their overflow problems.

This summer, dirty wastewater and sewage were released into the Niagara River, sparking an investigation. That led local officials to call for a new treatment facility.

State officials say the cost of repairing or replacing wastewater systems statewide is more than $36 billion.