Onondaga County, New York’s Save the Rain program combines sustainable green infrastructure and smart grey infrastructure in an innovative solution to the problem of combined sewer overflow (CSO) pollution.
When elected to the Onondaga County Executive position in 2007, Joanie Mahoney faced the challenge of complying with a consent decree requiring the resolution of the County’s CSO pollution issues.
Traditionally, county governments build new sewer treatment plants, but residents resist building these facilities near their neighborhoods. In addition, since most local governments strain to meet their existing financial expenses, the cost of construction new water treatment facilities poses a significant barrier. As an alternative, Mahoney explored the possibility of combining sustainable green infrastructure with smart grey water treatment infrastructure to develop a solution to CSO solution.
The Save the Rain Program
The result of Mahoney’s efforts is the Save the Rain is a comprehensive sustainable storm water management system that reduces storm water inundation of the sewer system. By preventing storm water from overloading sewer infrastructure, the risk of CSO pollution also decreases.
Some elements of this environmentally friendly storm water management program include:
• Rain gardens
• Green roofs
• Permeable pavement
• Rain barrels
In addition to solving CSO pollution problems, the benefits of using this sustainable storm water management plan include improvements in water quality, enhance beauty of streetscapes, and replacing public opposition to storm water infrastructure to demand for it in their neighborhoods.
This video provides additional information about Ocondaga County’s implementation of this program. http://youtu.be/Cr7_cxwpyyU
Read more about this program at the ASCE Sustainable Engineering blog.