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"Save The Rain" Program a Model for Storm Water Management in Onondaga County, NY. So Effective, Ent

With almost 500,000 people in Toledo, Ohio unable to drink their water because of toxic algae bloom created by fertilizer laced storm water run off into Lake Erie, it's hard not to think about what's "running" into all of our lakes, streams and natural waterways.

On the bright side, my great greenie friend Jodi Smits Anderson, who is the Director of Sustainability Programs for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, excitedly told me I needed to know about the amazing things going on with storm water management in Syracuse and around Onondaga Lake. (pictured above)

Jodi said: "You have to check out "Save The Rain" web site and see what Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is doing. They are open sourcing all their plans and what they are doing is incredible."

Porous Pavement in Syracuse Allows Rain to Be Absorbed in the Ground, Helping stop excessive run off.

The "Save the Rain" program is a comprehensive storm water management plan intended to reduce pollution in Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. During wet weather events, storm water flows into the local sewer system, causing heavy flow periods that can overload the system and result in toxic run off going into our waterways. In just a few years they have been able to reduce run off to such an extent that they were not required to build several new sewage treatment plants to keep up with the increased amount of storm water overwhelming the system.

Floating Wetland Islands at the Harbor Brook Treatment Wetland Project.jpg

Floating Wetland Islands at the Harbor Brook Treatment Wetland Project in Syracuse, New York

What is incredible about "Save the Rain" is not only does the this clever storm water management prevent toxins in stormwater from polluting the rivers and waterways, the entire concept revolves around creating a vibrant, green infrastructure that makes the city more lush and beautiful.

stormwater wetlands at Rosemond Guiford Zoo.jpg

Beautiful storm water wetlands constructed at the Rosemond Guiford Zoo, Syracuse, New York

Green infrastructure projects that were completed as part of "Save the Rain" include: constructed wetlands, floating wetlands, rain gardens, green roofs and porous pavements. The city even has a city wide rain barrel program which gives away rain barrels and offers rain barrel workshops.

rain barrel art project.jpg

Rain Barrel Art Project, Part of the "Save the Rain" Initiative in Onondaga County, New York

What's exciting about Save the Rain is that it not only made the building of two costly sewage treatment plants unnecessary, it stopped polluted storm water run off from needing to be treated in the first place by capturing it and filtering it the way Mother Nature intended it.

As result of this effective storm water management and the great reduction in the amount of toxins and impurities such as fertilizer entering the water, Lake Onondaga watershed has shown marked improvement in water quality.

And what is most inspiring is that the program also united the community as part of the process and helped them build the new green infrastructure that makes their communities more beautiful and healthy.

syracuse community tree planting.jpg

A Syracuse Community Tree Planting That was Part of "Save The Rain"

Onondaga County's "Save the Rain" Program is a national model for sustainable storm water management. We can only hope that communities across the country facing water quality issues learn from "Save the Rain." Please go to their web site to see the valuable information that is open sourced, enabling other communities to emulate the program and protect their own watershed.

Check out the "Save the Rain" resource section and watch the video below.

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