‘Save the Rain’ is coming to the suburbs

— Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain” campaign has quickly become a nationally recognized program throughout the United States. It has saved the county thousands of dollars in expensive treatment costs and is projected to save millions in the future. Up until now, all the projects have been done within the city of Syracuse. Instead of building treatment plants to capture sewer overflows, we are using green technology to keep millions of gallons of storm water out of our metro plant. I sponsored a resolution that the legislature passed to appropriate $3,000,000 to a Suburban Green Infrastructure Program (SGIP) specifically for local municipalities to encourage their use of the green infrastructure in upcoming construction projects. It is well documented that the inner rim suburbs, especially those within the fifth legislative district, share many of the same sewer over flow problems that plague the city of Syracuse.

You may remember the controversy surrounding building a sewage treatment plant in Armory Square. Originally, the cost to build the plant was projected to be about $30 million dollars. The actual cost swelled to over $110 million. The legislature believed there had to be a more cost effective solution. Green technology offered a way to capture the same amount of water at a fraction of the cost. Since we are under a consent order to keep water from the city out of the treatment plant, the technology had to capture the water within the city. Thanks to several grants, we are going to be able to complete those projects under budget. Therefore, $3 million of the unappropriated funding will be allocated to help the suburbs through the SGIP.

“Save the Rain” has been a great success over the past three years. Thirty projects were completed in 2011, and 30 more are underway. Most of these projects include; porous pavement, streetscapes, green roofs, bioretention, swales, cisterns and rain gardens. These projects are expected to cost a total of $11,576,897 and will result in 67,529,184 million gallons of captured rainwater. While it seems that a great amount of money has been spent on these projects, it is still far less than the cost of a new treatment plant.

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