Going Green: Cleaning wastewater
Like most cities in the northeast, sanitary sewer and storm drainage lines were built together so during major storms, the sewage treatment system is overwhelmed. Terry Ettinger has more on how one city is working to make the wastewater cleaner.
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When this project is complete, the Clinton Combined Sewer Overflow Storage Facility, this creek, Onondaga Creek, and this lake, Onondaga Lake, will be whole lot cleaner.
Like most cities in the northeast, sanitary sewer and storm drainage lines were built together so during major storms, the sewage treatment system is overwhelmed.
“I think people are surprised to hear that it was engineered to overflow about 50 times a year. When the sewer system was put into the city, it was combined with the storm sewers. A lot of communities aren’t like this but in the northeast the storm sewers and the sanitary sewers meet underground, so if you have a big rainstorm and all that water is added in and by design, it overflowed into Onondaga Creek,” said Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney.
And the raw sewage bypasses the treatment plant to end up in the lake, but this storage system will handle six million gallons of overflow.
Mahoney said, “The new plan captures the sewage overflows until the rainstorm subsides. Then with a system of pipes that will go to the Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant for full treatment so clean water will be released into Onondaga Lake.”
This project is also mostly underground and we’ll still be able to use that valuable piece of real estate and on that real estate, among other things, green infrastructure components will be installed that will also mitigate the storm water problem.
Green infrastructure like porous paving in parking lots, rain gardens, garden roofs are also being installed around the county to reduce storm water runoff.
“It’s part of a bigger puzzle where we need to capture 95 percent of this overflow as part of a Federal Court order, a pretty significant number, especially since a hundred percent of it was making its way into the creek. We now have to take 95 percent out and we’ll shoot for a hundred percent, but we don’t come out from under our obligations to the Federal Court until we hit 95 percent,” Mahoney said.