Channeling The Water In A "Green" Way

By: Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Jacki Ochoa Email

Some potential benefits of the federally mandated sewer separation project in Omaha was unveiled today.

City parks are being used to help slow the flow of rainwater into sewers... especially gully washers.

Doing this creates usable green space.

Janet Bonet has big dreams for Spring Lake Park.

"And I'd love to be able to come down and fish," she said. "I think it would be great."

Bonet has been fighting for improvements to the park for years.

"It needs to be nurtured, not neglected anymore" she said.

She might get her wish as Spring Lake Park is slated for a massive overhaul.

Similar to Elmwood Park.

Both are part of the federally mandated sewer separation project meant to separate storm runoff from sewer drainage.

The city calls Elmwood a "showcase project" because it demonstrates how the city has included both "green" and "gray" solutions.

"Green is trying to mimic natural systems, letting mother nature do some of the work for us," Marty Grate of Public Works said. "So, we don't need so much grey, concrete structures to clean the water before it's discharged to our receiving streams."

The goal, Grate says, is to restore the natural drainage route of the watershed.

"And at the same time adding some of these structural features to avoid erosion issues and also to act as a filtering system so that the water that enters into Elmwood creek right here is cleaner than what we see today," Grate said.

Bonet hopes to see the same concepts applied at Spring Lake Park when this area is redeveloped as a pond.

"Make this area more usable," she said. "More accessible to the public and hopefully get the kids in the schools around here, and there are a lot of schools right near by that would learn then about the environment and learn how to protect it and make it theirs."

Like she has made it hers.

Other city parks that are under development include a larger lagoon at Fontenelle Park and Brown Park, where a series of smaller ponds will slow the water in that area of town.

All of these projects could cut down the final bill for the sewer separation project by millions of dollars.

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