Today, Syracuse EFC, housed within the SyracuseCoE Center for Sustainable Community Solutions at Syracuse University, was awarded a $393,896 Green Infrastructure Outreach and Education grant from Onondaga County to revitalize and grow the “Save The Rain” campaign, which aims to teach residents and businesses about the importance of capturing stormwater to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Project partners include SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) Outreach, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Onondaga Environmental Institute, Baltimore Woods, Onondaga Earth Corps, Partnership for Onondaga Creek and Southside Interfaith.

The project team will use a combination of targeted education efforts alongside a broad outreach campaign. With this grant, the team will host rain barrel educational workshops, utilize social media tools, create curriculum for Syracuse City School District classrooms, sponsor design charettes, work with the Onondaga Earth Corps to connect with neighborhood residents, create experiential learning opportunities for community members and green jobs trainees, and more.

Why should residents try to “Save The Rain?” In Onondaga County, many sewers are combined—meaning that the same sewers that transport sanitary waste also capture rainwater. During large storms, the design of this infrastructure often results in combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which leak into Onondaga Creek and Harbor Brook and adversely affect water quality throughout the county.

While some traditional grey infrastructure (such as storage facilities and pipes) will be utilized to reduce this problem, Onondaga County is dedicated to primarily using green infrastructure: a method of keeping rainwater on-site by capturing it in gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, bioswales, porous pavement and more. In short: the more water that stays on each individual property, the less water that ends up in the combined sewers.