Saving rain in the suburbs

May 28, 2012

Onondaga County could soon be saving rain in the suburbs.

Lawmakers are considering expansion of the "Save the Rain" program, which has already kept 125 million gallons of water out of the sewage treatment plant in the city of Syracuse.

The Save the Rain program sprang out of a court order to stop sewer overflow from the city of Syracuse into Onondaga Lake and it's tributaries.

The program has worked so well, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is asking lawmakers to approve $3  million worth of projects in the suburbs.

Towns and villages have a different reason for wanting to keep rain water at bay.

"They do have sanitary sewers that are not combined, but when you look at the flow on a regular day, the number of gallons that go through a pump station and then compare it to what happens after a rain storm, they have eight times the water going through," Mahoney said.

Mahoney says all this rain often overtaxes systems, which ultimately costs taxpayers money.

She hopes approval of projects like porous pavement, rain barrels and rain gardens can help.

In the meantime she says the average homeowner can also do something to save the rain.

"I talk about turning downspouts, so they hit your landscaping instead of your driveway. If everybody was to do that we could slow seven percent of the water in a typical storm," Mahoney said.