Clean Streams, Strong Neighbourhoods (Video): "Blueprint Columbus"

Water Infrastructure That Delivers More Value

Columbus_water gushing manholeBlueprint Columbus is an exciting new opportunity that is being explored by the City of Columbus, Ohio. The City’s focus is eliminating sanitary sewer overflows while also investing in neighbourhoods and the local economy. Instead of simply storing excess water that seeps into the sanitary sewer system when rain falls and snow melts, Blueprint Columbus will address the source of the problem, where rain falls. To learn more, click on Blueprint Columbus.

Is There a Better Way?

City of Columbus staff overseeing implementation of the City’s Wet Weather Management Plan (WWMP) began asking: “Is there a better way?” The timing was right because shortly after these questions were posed, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a policy encouraging the solution the City was considering.

The EPA strongly encourages the use of green infrastructure to meet the challenges of complying with both stormwater regulations and the elimination of sewer overflows. When the City of Columbus WWMP was written, green infrastructure and the impact it can have on sewer overflows was not well developed. 

The Move to Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure is an engineered solution that mimics nature and filters pollutants that otherwise would be washed directly into streams. In recent years, many cities have proposed dealing with sewer overflows with a much greater reliance on green infrastructure instead of traditional gray infrastructure, such as tunnels.

Mayor Michael Coleman_120p“What made Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman take pause was that while the costs of building additional storage capacity were high, the benefits were markedly low and limited. The project would result in a new piece of infrastructure used maybe four or five days a year, and it would sit underground, literally, doing nothing for the landscape of the city and its citizens,” writes Steve Goldsmith in an article published on

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“What we’re seeing in cities like Columbus is part of a trend toward using green infrastructure to meet specific needs of utilities while generating a host of additional benefits for their communities. These cities are turning their infrastructural liabilities into assets,” concludes Steve Goldsmith.


To read the complete article by Steve Goldsmith, click on Water Infrastructure That Delivers More Public ValueSteve Goldsmith is a professor of government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He was formerly the two-term mayor of Indianapolis and deputy mayor for operations for New York City.

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