Green Infrastructure

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According to

Green infrastructure is strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations.

Locally, Onondaga County is boosting Syracuse's green infrastructure (GI) so that it will keep 250 million gallons annually of storm runoff out of the city's combined sewers.  This GI will augment the county's grey sewage infrastructure (pipes, storage tanks,  two regional treatment facilities).  By 2018, grey and green together will capture 95% of the city's combined sewage during an one-year storm event.  This grey-green infrastructure will prevent most of the city's combined sewer overflows from polluting its three creeks (Onondaga Creek, Harbor Brook, Ley Creek) and Onondaga Lake. 

For the next eight years the county has ambitious plans. It will construct green roofs and parking lots/roadways/sidewalks with a porous design/pavement.  It will plant 8500 trees and build rain gardens and teach the public how to use and install rain barrels.  Much of the 250 MG capture will happen through big municipal projects on city-owned land.  But, rain falls indiscriminately and so the county has set up a fund to encourage businesses and not-for-profits in certain combined sewer areas to capture the stormwater falling on their properties.  To learn more about this opportunity, go to

And just like recycling, GI will no be successful without city homeowners doing what they can to infiltrate rain water where it falls.  The goal is to prevent much of the runoff from reaching our storm sewers.  That means education is a large component of the county's GI strategy.  Besides hiring a media team, creating a website, the county funded a collaboration of organizations and community groups to raise public awareness about GI.  For more on this initiative go to our Community Collaboration page.




Last edited on June 2, 2011

Latest Update

NYSDEC Awards POC and Its Partners a 2012 Environmental Justice Grant

The Partnership for Onondaga Creek (POC) and Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) are pleased to announce the award of $49,967 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to their joint project called “Growing Syracuse’s Next Generation of Environmental Justice Leaders”. Out of 123 state applicants, the POC/OEC project is the sole winner for the Central New York region. The award will be administered by the groups’ fiscal sponsor, the Onondaga Environmental Institute.

“OEI is pleased to serve as the fiscal sponsor on this project,” stated Onondaga Environmental Institute President Edward Michalenko. “The project’s goals to empower youth to be active participants in creating positive change for their communities and the environment aligns nicely with OEI's mission to advance environmental research, education, planning and restoration in Central New York. Amy Samuels, OEI’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, is excited to provide youth technical training and mentoring.”

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