Skip to content

Green Infrastructure in Onondaga County

2012 July 16

By Nancy Stoner

Last month, I traveled to Syracuse, New York. Syracuse is located in Onondaga County, which is one of EPA’s “model communities” for green infrastructure because of the county’s “Save the Rain” campaign, which is a unique partnership between the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County and others to build nearly 100 green infrastructure projects over three years. The goal of these projects is to prevent polluted water from entering Onondaga Lake, which historically suffered from high levels of industrial and stormwater toxins.

With assistance from EPA, NY Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, Syracuse Center of Excellence and its partners, and many others, green infrastructure is being used to slow the flow of stormwater, allowing it to make its way back into the ground where it can be filtered as part of the water cycle.

During my visit to Syracuse, I was in awe of efforts to quickly introduce widespread green infrastructure. What makes Syracuse and Onondaga County unique is the sheer number of projects that they are simultaneously undertaking. I saw construction everywhere as workers were laying greener sidewalks, planting trees and repaving roads with porous asphalt.

Onondaga County is also taking green infrastructure to the top of local buildings. The roof of the War Memorial Arena now houses rain-capturing cisterns that supply the water for the arena’s minor league hockey rink. I learned that treated rain freezes harder than tap water, so the hockey team prefers to skate on the more durable, rainwater-harvested ice. Also, the roof of the County’s convention center is now green. The building’s 66,000 square-foot roof is covered in plants – making it one of the largest green roofs in the northeast. These two projects alone will prevent over one million gallons of polluted water from entering Onondaga Lake each year.

Efforts to improve water quality go well beyond the city’s infrastructure and infiltrate the community. To complete many of their green infrastructure projects, officials support neighborhood businesses by hiring local contractors and manufacturers. Projects also span into the suburbs where households can receive free rain barrels and water-harvesting training. Officials are also working to connect students with their surroundings. Through the Onondaga Earth Corps, students participate in environmental service projects that teach them about their relationship with the environment. This program prepares local youth to become the next generation of innovative thinkers who develop the latest technologies and trends in green infrastructure.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of  Water

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. July 16, 2012

    Green Manufactures.-

    Revolution of Industry was changed farming area became the others. Now including the other continents. OK, it’s history. But, wherever it’s being, they should be green and no dirty like most places. Whatever.-

  2. July 16, 2012

    Personally Im impressed by the quality of this. Generally when I come across these sort of things I like to post them on Digg. I dont think this would be the best to submit though. Ill look around and find another article that may work.

  3. Carol permalink
    July 16, 2012

    That’s really great work.

    Nancy Stoner, please require public solicitation and open procurement for funding of water-wastewater education such as the decentralized wastewater funds. Awarding these types of funding programs to informal coalitions of organizations to divide amongst themselves does not always lead to the most effective outcomes.

  4. July 17, 2012

    Digg is a platform that would be perfect to post this article to.. I think I will.

  5. July 23, 2012

    WE BLIVET THETA AFTER READING YOU ARTICULAR OF PROBLEMS WHIT WATER AND green infrastructure PARTNER I BLIVET YOU NEED TO CONTACT THIS COMPANY THE GOT ALL LOT OF PRODUCTS TO THE PROBLEM WHIT. WATER GREEN .RADON GAS .STORM WATER . TUMIDITY .HOPE THEE WHEEL HELP TO DEVELOP MOOR GOOD THINGS IN THE WATER PROBLEMS

  6. Kathleen Foley permalink
    July 24, 2012

    Kudos to all of the contributors to this successful program in Onondaga County. Let’s hope that this momentum snowballs to all urban areas of our country and beyond. Planting trees and implementing LID are some of the least expensive ways we can curtail global climate change AND reduce “flashing” of rivers, i.e., episodes of high temperature water inundating streams due to its contact with man-made surfaces. If lack of resources prevents installation of green roofs or other LID, then at least paint the roofs white and plant appropriate trees wherever feasible.
    When driving on the highway in the summer, I notice that it’s like driving into a refrigerator when I enter a shaded part of the Hwy due to tall trees. Let’s stop cutting down trees that line our highways.

  7. July 24, 2012

    Conserving water and protecting the environment!

  8. August 1, 2012

    Its the first time I’ve heard of Onandaga County lol. I should google that. And hey, I’m looking forward to see that place after those construction works are done! Im pretty sure it will turn out to be a really beautiful place

  9. Gresie permalink
    October 18, 2012

    Personally Im impressed by the quality of this. Digg is a platform that would be perfect to post this article

  10. Gresie Faianta permalink
    January 6, 2013

    That’s really great work Planting trees and implementing LID are some of the least expensive ways we can curtail global climate change AND reduce “flashing” of rivers, i.e., episodes of high temperature water inundating streams due to its contact with man-made surfaces. If lack of resources prevents installation of green roofs or other LID, then at least paint the roofs white and plant appropriate trees wherever feasible.

  11. [url="http://www.epardoseli.ro"]Mocheta[/url] permalink
    January 6, 2013

    Awarding these types of funding programs to informal coalitions of organizations to divide amongst themselves does not always lead to the most effective outcomes.

  12. [url=http://www.epardoseli.ro]Mocheta[/url] permalink
    January 6, 2013

    When driving on the highway in the summer, I notice that it’s like driving into a refrigerator when I enter a shaded part of the Hwy due to tall trees. Let’s stop cutting down trees that line our highways.

  13. http://www.epardoseli.ro permalink
    January 6, 2013

    HOPE THEE WHEEL HELP TO DEVELOP MOOR GOOD THINGS IN THE WATER PROBLEMS

  14. PARCHET permalink
    April 1, 2013

    HOPE THEE WHEEL HELP TO DEVELOP MOOR GOOD THINGS IN THE WATER PROBLEMS. When driving on the highway in the summer, I notice that it’s like driving into a refrigerator when I enter a shaded part of the Hwy due to tall trees.

  15. http://www.ray-bansonnenbrillede.com permalink
    September 8, 2013

    A good example ah.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS