Scajaquada Drain Expedition Executive Summary

BMIMTA's first-ever Scajaquada Drain Expedition (SDE) took place on July 11, 2013. Over thirty participants took part in all or a portion of the walking inspection and constituted a Public Evaluative Committee (PEC). The PEC is a central component of BMIMTA's implementation of PRETTI MOM. This PEC was tasked with walking the length of the buried section of Scajaquada Creek that runs beneath Buffalo's East Side neighborhoods otherwise known as Scajaquada Drain.

At predetermined locations along the four-mile-long path, BMIMTA staff worked with the PEC to carry out a series of tasks, including Multi-Sensorial Manhole Inspections (MSMI), Detritus and Debris Sampling (DDS), and Life Survey Logging (LSL). These tasks are the the central components of of the Sewer and Stream System Evaluation Survey (SSSES).

On this expedition, the PEC and BMIMTA also field-tested a collection of spatio-environmental notation techniques (SENTs) to mark our walking path, including marking a broken blue line with stencils and temporary blue chalk powder, periodically dropping chalk powder using a custom delivery system, tying of strips of blue cloth to notable landscape features, and improvised symbolic notation using blue “sidewalk” chalk.

After the completion of the SSSES tasks, the PEC convened at a local restaurant for a focus group moderated by BMIMTA staff. As part of this focus group, the PEC was asked to pass judgment on the Maintenance Status and Ecological Significance (MSES) of the Scajaquada Drain. The PEC was then dismissed, and their written comments from the focus group and recorded findings in their Field Workbooks were collected for further review.

What is Scajaquada Drain?

Scajaquada Drain is the name given to the approximately four miles of Scajaquada Creek buried between 1921 and 1928 underneath Buffalo's East Side. While the drain initially functioned as an extension of Buffalo’s sewer system, it currently exists in a permitting and ecological grey area, something between a creek and a drain pipe. These three maps may provide some additional context:

drain map
A map/schematic of Scajaquada Drain, the Scajaquada Trunk combined sewer line, and the NYPEDES-permitted Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) along the creek.
creek watershed
A map of the Scajaquada Creek watershed (note the missing blue line where the creek flows underground).
drain schematic
A schematic of how Scajaquada Drain connects to the city's combined sewer system (CSS).