Your Benefits: Green Solutions
Green Solutions are an important part of stormwater management and can help to capture, cleanse and reduce runoff through the use of natural or engineered systems that mimic natural landscapes. They can be cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.
Common types of green solutions include: detention or retention ponds, wetlands, rain gardens, porous pavements, and green roofs.
White Paper on Green Solutions (1 MB, PDF)
- What is the City doing?
- What can I do?
A CSO Green Solutions Program has been established to implement stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The City is currently working on:
During the Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) development, the City evaluated Green Solutions for potential implementation. This evaluation resulted in the development of three categories of projects.
- Category 1 Green Solutions are projects that showed a promise of being cost-effective in reducing CSO volumes or peak flows.
- Category 2 Green Solutions are those projects where additional information and study would be necessary to determine their cost-effectiveness.
- Category 3 Green Solutions are those that were determined not to be cost-effective.
These sites are listed in the LTCP. Additional work is necessary to determine the appropriate BMPs, refine costs, and ensure that the implementation will be cost-effective. The implementation of Green Solutions makes sense where they reduce the cost of the LTCP controls. The City will perform a more in-depth evaluation of these Green Solutions and others on a project by project basis to ensure that they provide a significant benefit to the CSO Program and will then commit to solutions that are cost-effective.
It is anticipated that these solutions would primarily be on City-owned or City-controlled properties. This step will involve refining the process and criteria previously used to identify additional sites that may have benefits. It is anticipated that this will be a continuous process during the implementation of the LTCP.
Additional reductions in CSO magnitude, duration, or frequency may be achievable when Green Solutions are incorporated by private entities. A program has been developed that encourages these entities to implement and maintain Green Solutions on their properties.
The City continues to develop criteria or procedures to be used to include Green Solutions in CSO related projects.
The City will continue to educate the general public about what it can to do reduce its own impact on the combined sewer system. This will likely include the use of rain barrels, onsite infiltration of stormwater, and similar controls. The City has retained the services of a Public Participation Facilitator who will assist with this effort.
An important element of the City’s Long Term Control Plan will be the continued operation of programs that have been implemented. This includes the implementation of the City’s Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System (MS4) permit. These programs assist the City in reducing the amount of pollutants entering the sewer system or receiving streams through contaminated stormwater or combined flows. These controls are not implemented solely in the combined sewer system service areas but across Omaha and the greater metropolitan area.
The City is a member of the Papillion Creek Watershed Partnership, a consortium representing nine communities, two counties, and a natural resource district. The partnership developed six strategies that addressed water quality and water quantity management issues, and were adopted as the Stormwater Element of the City’s Master Plan in the summer of 2006. The policies cover stormwater management financing, peak flow reduction, pollution, landscape preservation, restoration and conservation, erosion and sediment control, and flood plain management. To see what the City is doing to meet these six policies visit the City of Omaha Stormwater Program.
Green Solutions for the typical home site capture stormwater runoff before it enters the sewer system.
Rain gardens contain flowering plants and grasses (preferably native species of both) that can survive in soil soaked with water from rain storms. However, they are not gardens that have standing water. Rain gardens collect and slow stormwater runoff and increase its infiltration into the soil. They reduce the rapid flow of stormwater from homes and businesses to storm drains and thus protect streams and lakes from pollutants that are washed from house roofs and paved areas and from channel and bank erosion.
For additional information on how to build a rain garden go to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln extension site.
Rain barrels, also called cisterns, are aboveground water storage containers that capture rain runoff from a building's roof using the gutter and downspout system.
Use of a rain barrel located under gutter downspouts and connected with a hose to the rain garden can help spread rainfall over longer periods of time, thereby slowing the flow of stormwater and increasing its infiltration. For these to be effective, it is necessary that the water collected be used on site and not allowed to flow into the stormwater system.
Directing runoff from roof drains and impervious surfaces to vegetated areas allows the water to infiltrate, thus resulting in decreases of peak flows downstream. In the CSO area, this is probably the most significant thing that Citizens can do to control CSOs. Disconnection of roof drains from the sanitary or combined sewer system will assist in preventing heavy rain and stormwater from overwhelming these systems, resulting in environmental pollution and property damage.