Blueprint Columbus will be significantly better for the environment than the original plan because of the green infrastructure contained in the improvements. The addition of gray infrastructure (i.e. larger sewer tunnels) would be able to eliminate remaining overflows, but Blueprint will do it in a manner which will also improve storm water discharges, resulting in better water quality.
Even with the accelerated schedules the City will be able to manage rate increases. Unlike the previous gray infrastructure plans, the Blueprint plan should not create any double digit rate increases.
One of the most exciting aspects to Blueprint is its creativity. Sanitary sewer overflows occur when rainwater gets into the sewer and overwhelms it. The traditional solutions just treat the symptoms – too much water in the sewers – by building larger pipes. Blueprint attacks the root of the problem by addressing the rain water that is entering the sewer system. Instead of building more infrastructure, Blueprint will invest in rehabilitating and correcting existing infrastructure.
Better for our neighborhoods and our local economy
Blueprint will create neighborhood amenities. For instance, in the Clintonville pilot area, the City is proposing to build a porous pavement street, which will include a sidewalk. In the Barthman-Parsons pilot area, the City is building a park, rain gardens, and a porous pavement basketball court. Blueprint will also create more jobs and have a greater impact on our local economy.
Driven by community feedback
The City has done significant public outreach as a part of this planning effort. This includes an advisory panel, focus groups, canvassing, surveys, and educational events. Blueprint Columbus also continues to improve its feedback process. As plans are drafted for each neighborhood, residents are encouraged to attend public meetings to provide input and ask questions. These meetings happen at key points as plans are drafted and implemented: 30% design, 60% design, 90% design, and the pre-construction phase. When communities steer the process, neighborhoods develop a sense of ownership over the project and have a design that fits their unique community aesthetic.
An Overloaded System
In Columbus, there are sanitary sewers and storm sewers. Sanitary sewers take the water from your house to be treated. Storm sewers take rain water from streets and driveways to a nearby river or stream, without being treated.
Our sanitary sewer system works well most of the time, but rain water and snow melt can seep into the system and overload it through cracks in underground pipes and improper drainage. This excess water can cause sanitary sewers to overflow into our rivers and streams and causes the sewers to backup into some residents’ basements.
A Common Problem
Sewer overflows are not unique to Columbus. Cities across the country are experiencing the same problem: the amount of water entering the sanitary sewer system is exceeding the system’s capacity to hold it. Until recently, the solution was to increase the system’s storage capacity by building larger pipes.
A New Approach
The City of Columbus has developed a new approach to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. Instead of simply storing excess water that seeps into the sanitary sewer system, Blueprint Columbus addresses the source of the problem by installing green infrastructure and improving residential infrastructure in our neighborhoods. This prevents the water from entering our sanitary sewer system in the first place.
Learn more about the design process for Blueprint Columbus