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Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper in World Spotlight

The group Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper monitors water quality at 11 locations along the Niagara River. (Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper)
The group Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper monitors water quality at 11 locations along the Niagara River. (Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper)
July 27, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has been named one of three finalists for a prestigious international award. The Thiess International Riverprize, awarded by the International RiverFoundation in Australia, is given to reward and support outstanding river-management programs.

Jill Jedlicka, who heads Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, called the selection as a finalist a "significant moment" in the organization's history.

"It validates the work that we've been doing for 25 years," she said, "and the impact that we've had on our community and the Great Lakes Basin."

The Buffalo River was declared functionally dead in the 1960s, but the community rallied to turn that around. The winner of the prize will be announced in September at the 19th International Riversymposium in New Delhi, India.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper got its start in 1989, after the state had completed the first Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan. Since then, Jedlicka said, they've taken on the region's biggest freshwater challenges.

"Everything from cleaning up toxic sediment from local waterways to minimizing sewage overflows, restoring habitat, but also advocating for the long-term health of the Great Lakes," she said.

in 2003, the organization became the first nonprofit in the Great Lakes Basin to be given authority and funding by the Environmental Protection Agency to manage implementation of a Remedial Action Plan. Now, Jedlicka said, she believes their efforts will help show the world what can be done.

"We partnered with business, we partnered with government, we partnered with citizens alike," she said, "and altogether this 'team of rivals' model did almost the impossible, which was to restore a river system."

The other finalists for the Thiess International Riverprize are a river restoration project in Spain and a dam-removal project in Washington state.

More information is online at

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY