Save the Rain is a county initiative to clean up Onondaga Lake by reducing the amount of rainwater flowing into waste water treatment plants. As in many cities across the US, stormwater flows into the same treatment facilities as sewage water from homes and businesses, called a combined sewer system. This causes issues in large rain events when the system overloads and releases the combined sanitary flow and stormwater into local tributaries, including Harbor Brook and Onondaga Creek both of which flow into Onondaga Lake. Such an event is known as a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). When combined stormwater and sewer systems overflow during major storm events the water quality in each local tributary as well as Onondaga Lake is impacted.
To reduce the number of overflow events, Onondaga County implemented many projects to capture rain water. Some projects are traditional ‘grey’ projects such as upgrading a treatment plant, building cisterns and sewer separation projects. Additionally, the county has decided to implement a number of green infrastructure projects such as:
- constructing a wetland
- planting trees throughout the City of Syracuse
- installing porous pavement on roads, parking lots, basketball courts and sidewalks
- installing rain gardens, green roofs, bioswales, and rain barrels
- installing below ground infiltration trenches