Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainable Development

Innovative Development Solutions: Groundbreaking Green Infrastructure

February 25, 2013 at 4:40 PM

SHORT ENTERPRISES SPEARHEADS Largest Privately Pursued Green Infrastructure Project in ONONDAGA COUNTY'S Acclaimed "Save the Rain" Program

Onondaga County's groundbreaking "Save the Rain" Program, winner of the coveted U.S. Water Prize in 2013is a combined sewer overflow (CSO) abatement/water quality program focused on balancing the use of conventional wastewater/stormwater treatment technologies, with advanced, innovative green infrastructure best management practices. 

During wet weather events, storm-water flows into the local sewer system, causing heavy flow periods that can overload the system. During times of overload, the system is designed to release combined sanitary flow and storm-water into local waterways (Harbor Brook, Onondaga Creek). This event is known as a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). CSOs significantly reduce water quality in local tributary water bodies including Onondaga Lake. Click here for a map of the Sewersheds and CSO locations.

Rather than advance a costly project ($100 million estimated), County Executive Joanie Mahoney joined with USEPA and New York State to petition the federal courts to change course and establish a new, more affordable and sustainable CSO abatement program. As a result, the Save the Rain program was born in November of 2009. Federal Justice Frederick Scullin approved a CSO abatement program that allowed the County to change course and advance a program that balanced the use of wet weather storage as well as a requirement to use green infrastructure. It was the first settlement of its kind in the nation to endorse and require green infrastructure as a stormwater management solution.

As such, the County's Department of Water Environment Protection ("WEP") is sponsoring a grant incentive program, the Green Improvement Fund ("GIF").  GIF will provide financial incentives for the installation of Green Infrastructure projects as an aspect of the development or redevelopment and/or retrofitting of certain classes of privately owned properties in the Clinton, Harbor Brook and Midland Combined Sewer sheds.

Onondaga Commons is located in the Midland Sewer district in the City of Syracuse. Representing the largest concentration of impervious parking and roof surfaces in the area, Onondaga Commons is also one of the largest contributors of rainwater runoff into the Syracuse combined sewer system.

Working in partnership with the Onondaga County Green Infrastructure Fund, we've secured over a million dollars for the overall effort, which consists of 7 individual components, each with committed grant funding from the County. In total, the new installations will manage roughly 10 million gallons of rainwater runoff annually.

LEARN MORE: EPA recognizes Onondaga County, Syracuse as top 10 green community

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