Sewer separation project yields public benefits

Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 4:35 PM CDT
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A huge face lift at one of the Omaha's largest parks.

The people behind the project say it will have benefits far beyond beauty.

John Arthur grew up near Fontenelle Park.

The lagoon he's looking at is now part of the city's sewer separation project.

“It's excellent, its excellent. I like the way they did it. I'm trying to figure out how long until we start fishing. Maybe this weekend, he said. “If you got something pretty to look at why not utilize it.”

The city is using the lagoon as a way to meet a federal mandate.

The eight and one half acre lagoon is now 11 feet deep holding three times the water of the old lagoon.

Rain water and snow melt are then slowly released downstream.

“And that's really going to benefit things downstream from here because that water's held here instead of going back into the combined sewer system and the Missouri River,” Assistant Public Works Director of Environmental Services Jim Theiler said.

And help keep water out of basements.

The city's public works and parks departments joined forces to create these holding areas at six parks on the city's east side.

Creating green space and recreational areas that would have been cost prohibitive in this 105 acre park.

“We just don't have the manpower and the capability to do million dollar renovations like this so for us to piggy back on what public works is doing and work together it has been truly special,” Omaha Parks and Recreation Director Brook Bench said.

“Can we find ways to do something besides building big pipes, Theiler said. “Because while that can help it doesn't bring anything to the community. People don't see that. People can see this.”

With playgrounds, picnic areas, a splash pool, and walking trails, John Arthur likes having more recreational opportunities in the middle of the city.

“Maybe me and baby might sit out and have a picnic,” he said. “I see they got a couple of grills out there…yeah it will be OK. Got to get that grill going. Yeah, we got the ribs already waiting…so.”

Other parks that have become part of the city's sewer separation picture include Adams, Elmwood, Spring Lake and Miller Park.

Work at Hanscom Park is currently underway.