The Save the Rain program is a comprehensive stormwater management plan intended to reduce pollution to Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. During wet weather events, stormwater 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 stormwater 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.
Since 1998, Onondaga County has been under an Amended Consent Judgment (ACJ) order by the Federal Courts to take steps to reduce and/or eliminate the frequency of CSO events. Under the ACJ, the County has completed dozens of projects related to CSO abatement and reduction. In particular, the County made dramatic improvements at the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant (Metro) that serves the City of Syracuse. In addition, the County initiated several sewer separation and other projects to further improve water quality and manage stormwater runoff. To date, the County has completed over 30 “gray” projects to improve sewage conveyance and treatment at a cost of over $300 million. ACJ projects have resulted in great improvements to the water quality of Onondaga Lake.
In January 2008, under the direction of County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney, County officials and interested stakeholders began to investigate alternative options to the use of “gray’ infrastructure to combat stormwater runoff. The County worked with all parties of the ACJ to develop a new environmentally friendly plan that would utilize sustainable solutions. On November 16, 2009, US District Judge Frederick Scullin signed a revised ACJ plan that included an aggressive initiative to develop green infrastructure that will position Onondaga County as a leader in the use of environmentally sustainable solutions to reduce stormwater pollution.
2011 marked the first full year of program implementation for Save the Rain. Onondaga County set an aggressive goal to construct over fifty distinct green infrastructure projects to prevent storm water from entering into the sewer system. The “Project 50” campaign would establish Onondaga County and Save the Rain as national leaders in the use of green infrastructure technologies. “Project 50” would feature projects ranging from signature ones, such as the construction of a sixty thousand square foot green roof on the Onondaga County Convention Center (OnCenter), to neighborhood level projects, such as tree plantings at a local community center. More information…
To see project details for all of the projects from 2010-2012 visit our Green Projects page.
Green Improvement Fund (GIF)
The Save the Rain program also includes work with private property owners in the City. Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection (“WEP”) is sponsoring a grant incentive program, the Green Improvement Fund (“GIF”) that provides financial incentives for the installation of Green Infrastructure projects on private property. The program is designed to encourage the use of green infrastructure in the development and redevelopment of private property. For more information including a downloadable copy of the program boundary map and application, please click on the following link. More information…
Rain Barrel Program
As part of the Save the Rain program, Onondaga County offers FREE rain barrels to homeowners in the City of Syracuse. In order to receive a rain barrel, home-owners must attend a brief rain barrel workshop. Participants will also be required to complete and sign a Rain Barrel Agreement Form. For more information on how to participate in the rain barrel program, please click on the following link. More information…
Urban Forestry Program
The Save the Rain Urban Forestry program aims to develop a robust tree planting strategy for neighborhoods throughout the City. Tree plantings are an important aspect of the “STR” program because they absorb rain water and reduce the potential of run-off to the sewer system. For more information on how you can participate in the Urban Forestry Program, please click on the following link. More information…
Find out more about how you can help at home or at work.
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