About the Program

Engaging, Integrated, Effective

Blueprint Columbus is a first-of-its-kind plan that other cities and countries are seeking to emulate. Sanitary sewer overflows occur when rain water gets into the sewer and overwhelms it. The traditional solutions just treat the symptoms – too much stormwater overwhelming the existing capacity of the sanitary sewer – by building larger pipes. Blueprint attacks the root of the problem by addressing the rain water entering the sewer system. Instead of building more infrastructure, Blueprint invests in rehabilitating and correcting existing infrastructure.

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Why Blueprint?


We know that this project to build green infrastructure, install sump pumps, line laterals and redirect roofwater is different from any other project the Department of Public Utilities has done. The Blueprint plan has the unique ability to not only improve infrastructure, but also create new neighborhood amenities. To truly create amenities, however, we need to take time to fully engage the residents as partners when we develop each neighborhood’s solution. We know Columbus residents take pride in their neighborhoods, so we are committed to engaging our neighborhoods at each step of the process.

Our Design Process


Blueprint Columbus takes a holistic approach to improving our sewer infrastructure, while also significantly improving water quality. Street flooding is a big concern in some neighborhoods. Blueprint Columbus installs green infrastructure such as rain gardens and increases the storm sewer capacity to help better manage stormwater during large rain events. The green infrastructure filters out trash and pollutants, meaning the water that reaches our streams is cleaner and safer for the environment. Green infrastructure is also better for our ecosystem, providing habitat for pollinator species and birds!


Blueprint strengthens neighborhood infrastructure, enhances community green space and improves neighborhood ecosystems. We are collaborating with other City programs and initiatives to address common concerns such as safety, access to farmers’ markets and community gardens, and the need for additional greenspace in our neighborhoods. By contracting with local companies, Blueprint also creates jobs and has a greater impact on our local economy. The Blueprint plan also allows the city to manage rate increases.

Did You Know?

60% of the pollution in our rivers and streams comes from our neighborhoods. Lawn chemicals, pet waste, motor oil and trash are washed into our storm sewers when it rains. The storm sewers then carry this pollution from our streets straight into the river, untreated.

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Why Now?

This is an ideal time to begin the process of making far-ranging improvements to our sanitary sewer and storm water drainage systems.

An Overloaded System

In Columbus, there are sanitary sewers and storm sewers. Sanitary sewers take the waste 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 through cracks in underground pipes, overloading the system. This excess water can cause sanitary sewers to overflow untreated waste water 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 better 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. Other cities have used elements of Blueprint, such as green infrastructure, to great success in their own communities.

Questions About Our Goals?

Questions about our goals, or the process to achieve them? Check out our FAQ, or contact our Outreach Team now!