Mayor Jim Suttle's administration believes that a series of concrete walls and ditches that line the southeastern corner of Elmwood Park are essential to the city's sewer separation project.
Stormwater pipe will send water downhill through a stretch of grasses and plants, then through gaps in the concrete toward a nearby creek, a process that naturally filters and soaks up stormwater runoff instead of sending it to a treatment plant.
Similar systems are being installed in 13 other locations across Omaha's east side, and city officials want to explore doubling that number as the city continues to slog through a roughly $2 billion, federally mandated sewer overhaul.
Such “green” design elements — rain gardens or other landscaping features that mimic natural systems' ways of capturing water runoff — still allow the city to meet the federal government's clean water standards and could save money, Suttle said during a Tuesday press conference.
“When we combine these types of innovative solutions, we are not only improving the environmental quality of our parks, we are saving taxpayers money,” Suttle said.
These ideas alone won't entirely offset the need for so-called “gray” solutions: concrete pipe and manmade water treatment systems.
But officials say integrating both concepts shows promise for cost savings. A green project at Spring Lake Park in South Omaha, for example, could save up to $5 million.
“There are significant opportunities here,” said city environmental services manager Marty Grate. “Green solutions aren't always cheaper than gray solutions, but trying to find the right blend allows us to decrease cost, and that's passed along to the ratepayers.”
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