Leading Changes in Infrastructure Practice in the United States: What is Blueprint Columbus?
Clean Streams, Strong Neighbourhood
The City of Columbus is exploring a comprehensive green infrastructure project, Blueprint Columbus. If approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the program would help eliminate sanitary sewer overflows, address future storm water regulations, improve water quality, and encourage the use of green infrastructure, while also investing in the local economy to create permanent jobs and improve neighbourhoods.
The potential benefits of this approach are significant. First, there are environmental benefits. Second, there are many other benefits to the community envisioned as part of this plan, such as improved property values and helping to stabilize some of the most challenging neighbourhoods.
Is There A Better Way?
Several years ago, City of Columbus staff overseeing implementation of the City’s Wet Weather Management Plan (WWMP) began asking:
“Is there a better way? Can we solve the problem of sewer overflows in a way that leaves a visible, long term improvement in our community?”
The timing was right because shortly after these questions were posed, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a policy encouraging the solution the City was considering: integrating the work required by the consent decrees and detailed in the WWMP with work required under regulations on the stormwater system.
“The goal of Blueprint Columbus is to ‘treat the cause, not the symptom’, This means working with residents to improve drainage from homes by installing sump pumps, redirecting roof run-off and repairing ‘laterals’, the pipes that carry wastewater from houses. And on a larger scale, it involves building a system of green infrastructure to keep excess stormwater from entering the sanitary system in the first place,” states Dax Blake, the City’s assistant director of sustainability and its administrator of sewerage and drainage.
While there are many benefits, there are also many challenges presented by this approach. Removing the source of water seeping into lateral pipes on private property is much more visible and invasive from the homeowner’s perspective. The City may need to: replace/rehab downspouts and gutters, disturb front and back yards, build in the street right-of-way.
To Learn More:
For more information about the initiative, click on Blueprint Columbus to visit the City’s website.
To download a copy of a PowerPoint presentation by the City that lays out the Blueprint Columbus storyline, click on Blueprint Columbus: Our Unique Approach to Solving Water Quality Problems.
For information on the United States EPA policy referenced above, click on Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans