Connect the Drops

Here in Onondaga County, litter, rain, our water system and Onondaga Lake are all connected. The small choices you make throughout our community have a much larger impact than you might imagine.

Connect the Drops below to see why responsible choices like not littering are so important to our county and its future.

The Connection

Like more than 750 other communities across the country, Onondaga County operates on a combined sewer system. While there are advantages to this type of system, there are challenges as well.

When it rains, litter on the street is washed down storm drains and into the water system.

In times of heavy rain, our 2,300 miles of sewers and water treatment plant are overwhelmed.

Overflow is diverted into Onondaga Lake...

and the diverted stormwater carries trash into the lake.

The Impact

Water quality in Onondaga Lake is the best it’s been in 100 years.
We’ve worked hard as a community for a cleaner future - and now it’s our responsibility to make sure that work doesn’t go down the drain.

98% of trash that makes its way to the lake
is street-born litter.

How We're Improving

The County is already taking steps to help keep our water system clean, but they all take time and resources. We simply can’t do it alone.

Onondaga County has implemented over 180 green infrastructure projects, in addition to smart investments in gray infrastructure, to manage stormwater and prevent combined sewer overflows. We're also installing technology in catch basins across the City of Syracuse to stop litter from entering the sewer system. And we're working to clean up litter that has reached the Inner Harbor and the shore of Onondaga Lake.

We need your help to keep improving water quality and prevent street litter from reaching the water entirely.

How You Can Help

The simplest part of the story is the most important

You can make a big impact by simply properly tossing out your trash and encouraging family, friends and total strangers not to litter as well.

Get a group together and pick up street litter in your neighborhood

Let’s work together to clean up our community – and prevent street litter from reaching our waterways!

Bag your fall leaves before placing them curbside

It is important to rake leaves and bag them up to keep them out of the sewer. Save the Rain leaf bags are available at local libraries and community centers near you.

Help capture stormwater runoff by using a rain barrel

Free rain barrels are distributed to City of Syracuse homeowners to capture stormwater from the roof of their homes. Rain water collected in the barrels can be used to water flowers, wash cars, or other non-potable purposes.

Learn More

Plant street trees

Trees are an important aspect of Save the Rain. Trees naturally soak up stormwater and use the precipitation to feed their root systems. A tree canopy slows the rainwater with its leaves allowing the soil to become fully saturated with water. The tree is then able to absorb more rain water and reduce run-off entering the sewer system.

Learn More