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SU Warehouse site of EPA announcement: Syracuse, Onondaga County named one of 10 top green communities in nation
Before a standing-room-only crowd at Syracuse University’s Warehouse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County one of 10 top green communities in the nation.
“It’s an amazing vision,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, a Syracuse University graduate, who made the announcement with EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Onondaga Nation Tribe leader Sid Hill and SU officials in attendance.
Now city and county leaders are collaborating to complete 50 green planning projects in the Syracuse area this year under the county’s “Save the Rain” program. Projects include the Harbor Brook area, which will reduce stormwater runoff using green infrastructure technologies, and Syracuse’s Near West Side neighborhood, where green roofs, permeable pavements and urban gardens will be installed. “Some of the things we are doing have never been done before,” Mahoney said.
Green infrastructure projects use open space and natural greenways, wetlands, parks, forests and native plant vegetation, to manage stormwater and reduce flooding. The selection of partner cities was based on successful implementation of green technology to management stormwater, resulting in more sustainable, livable communities. “These communities are way ahead of the curve,“ Enck said. “The investments that Syracuse and Onondaga County are making today will be a catalyst for sustainable growth for years to come.”
While no federal money has been set aside for the “Save the Rain” projects, the EPA will keep a watchful eye on the progress of the green initiatives Syracuse and Onondaga County make, which could eventually be shared with other cities.
Stormwater carries chemicals and other debris into water bodies that can damage streams and lake ecosystems. In older cities, like Syracuse, combined sewer systems carry sanitary sewage from homes and street runoff from storm drains, which can overflow during periods of heavy rain, further contaminating local waterways. The traditional collection and treatment of stormwater water is expensive, resulting in significant construction and operations costs for local communities. Green infrastructure usually costs less to install and maintain compared to traditional infrastructure.
Examples of green projects include capturing rainwater through the use of green roofs and permeable pavements, preserving wetlands, installing rain gardens and other methods that put the collected water to productive use before it enters municipal wastewater treatment systems. In addition to contributing to more sustainable sewer and water systems, green infrastructure projects often provide communities with additional recreation space, revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing property values.
Through its Green Infrastructure Partnership program, the EPA will work with other federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, municipalities and the private sector to identify opportunities and provide technical assistance to communities implementing green approaches to control stormwater. To encourage municipalities to adopt green infrastructure solutions, the EPA will focus on community partnerships, outreach and information exchange, financing and capacity building.