Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainable Development

Phase One GI Installations Complete at Onondaga Commons

October 21, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Phase One construction is now complete on the innovative green infrastructure installations at the Onondaga Commons Urban Revitalization Initiatives in Syracuse, New York.

Representing the largest concentration of contiguous impervious parking and roof surfaces in the City's Near Westside, Onondaga Commons is also one of the largest contributors of rainwater runoff into the Syracuse combined sewer system.

Onondaga County Save the Rain Syracuse New York

During wet weather events such as rainfall, storm-water flows into the local sewer system, causing heavy flow periods that overload the system. During times of overload, the system is designed to release combined sanitary flow and storm-water into local waterways. This means that raw untreated sewage overflows into our local water systems.

Working in partnership with the Onondaga County Green Infrastructure Fund, Short Enterprises spearheaded the efforts to secure over a million dollars to build new installations spread across the 6 acre Onondaga Commons campus that will manage roughly +/- 10 million gallons annually in rainwater runoff that would otherwise overload the local sewer system. The purpose of the County’s Green Infrastructure Fund (GIF) is to support the development of green infrastructure and storm-water mitigation techniques on private property projects.

Save the Rain at Onondaga Commons Urban Revitalization Initiatives - Onondaga County Syracuse, New York

The GIF is a component of Onondaga County's internationally recognized program, Save the Rain, which won the United States Clean Water Prize in 2013. These award-winning efforts are being spearheaded by our County to revitalize what was once the most polluted lake in the United States (Onondaga Lake). 

Since 2009, Onondaga County has installed or funded the installation of more than 100 green infrastructure projects throughout the City of Syracuse and suburban communities. Green Infrastructure helps community’s to manage storm water holistically, maintaining healthy waters by incorporating natural processes, such as bio-swales, tree plantings, green roofs and porous parking lots into the built environment.

Onondaga County Executive Mahoney launched the award winning Save the Rain program in 2008 as an alternative to building three planned sewage treatment plants in the City of Syracuse. In 2009 and with US EPA’s support, Onondaga County received permission to alter its lake clean-up program and incorporate green infrastructure technologies into the County’s overall combined sewer overflow mitigation strategy. To date, Onondaga County has invested more than $30 million in green infrastructure technologies.

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In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Syracuse, New York was chosen as one of 10 communities throughout the nation being recognized as a “Green Infrastructure Partner.” Green infrastructure projects use open space and natural areas, such as greenways, wetlands, parks, forests and native plant vegetation, to manage storm-water and reduce flooding. The selection of the partner cities was based on their success in implementing green techniques to manage storm-water, and in their progress in creating more sustainable, livable communities.

Storm-water often carries chemicals and other debris into local water bodies, and can damage stream and lake ecosystems. In older cities such as Syracuse, combined sewer systems that carry sanitary sewage from homes and street runoff from storm drains, can overflow during periods of heavy rain, further contaminating local waterways. The traditional collection and treatment of storm-water can be very expensive, and result in significant construction and operations costs for local communities. Green infrastructure usually costs less to install and maintain compared to traditional infrastructure. Examples of green projects include capturing rainwater through the use of green roofs, permeable pavements, preserving wetlands, rain gardens and other methods that put the collected water to productive use before it enters municipal wastewater treatment systems. In addition to contributing to more sustainable sewer and water systems, green infrastructure projects often provide communities with additional recreation space, revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing property values.

Through its Green Infrastructure Partnership program, EPA will work with other federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, municipalities, and the private sector to identify opportunities and provide technical assistance to communities implementing green approaches to control storm-water. To encourage municipalities to adopt green infrastructure solutions, EPA will focus on community partnerships, outreach and information exchange, financing, and capacity building.

For additional information on Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program:

For additional information on EPA’s Green Infrastructure Community Partners:

More information on the partnership can be found on the following links:

Additional Information & Relating News:

 

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