Project 50: 2011

Implementing More Than 50 Green Projects in 2011

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.

In all, over 60 projects were implemented as part of the “Project 50” campaign. In addition to making significant progress towards reducing storm water runoff pollution, in 2011 Onondaga County received a special designation from the EPA as one of only ten model green infrastructure communities throughout the country.

One of the biggest projects we are involved in – our efforts to clean up Onondaga Lake – continue as well. Early in 2011, columnist Sean Kirst did a great story* about how bald eagles have been wintering on the lake. Viewing the eagles has become a popular attraction drawing many people to the lakefront. Due to County Executive, Joanie Mahoney’s concerns for their safety and the safety of the eagles, Deputy County Executive Matt Millea has been tasked to create a viewing plan for next season.

In Sean Kirst’s story, Frank Moses, Director of the Montezuma Audubon Center, commented, “the idea of the once-endangered national symbol returning each winter to a recovering lake is a story of re-emergence.” It is a perfect example of how far our lake has come. But there is much more work to do.

The projects are exciting and are further solidifying our reputation of being on the forefront of the green movement. It will help attract people to our region and green jobs for our County. More importantly, it means that when you drive down Geddes Street, you will see a park across the street from Fowler High School and not a sewage treatment plant.

Included within “Project 50” was the construction of a sixty thousand square foot green roof on the Onondaga County Convention Center, making Syracuse home to one of the largest green roofs in the Northeast. This green roof will capture over one million gallons of rainfall annually.

In addition to the green roof project, Onondaga County also partnered with the Syracuse Crunch on an exciting project at the War Memorial. The county has created a water reuse system to capture rain water for heating and cooling. It also is being used to make ice for the hockey rink. So since 2011, every puck dropped has landed on ice made from rain water!


*Read Sean Kirst’s story about the eagles at