Columbus Blueprint: Using Green Infrastructure to Address SSOs and Basement Flooding

Last Modified: Jul 20, 2018


  • Kathleen Smith - Hazen and Sawyer
  • Jason Sanson - City of Columbus

Blueprint Columbus addresses sewer overflows and water-in-basement events and is Columbus’ answer to two state-level consent orders. Blueprint employs sewer rehabilitation (including lateral lining), downspout redirection, sump pumps, and green infrastructure to address the cause of overflows. Columbus is currently constructing rain gardens as the first phase of Blueprint, in the initial project area of Clintonville, with five other areas in the design phase. As Blueprint has evolved from concept through construction, there has been a variety of valuable lessons regarding planning, design, and communication.

Planning and design efforts focused on making the process more efficient and acceptable to stakeholders. Improvements include the development of modeling guidelines and a green infrastructure site screening GIS tool. Community interaction has been an important element, as Blueprint is intended to alleviate stormwater impacts on homes, but also involves construction within established communities. Communication efforts evolved to include project websites, social media, community groups and associations, and door-to-door conversation. Generally, customers did not attend meetings until construction was eminent, which led to some stakeholder opposition to Blueprint and rain gardens. Communication efforts continue to develop as construction continues through the initial 1000-acre area.

Private property improvements have been well received by the public. Voluntary sump pump installations are steady, and planned downspout redirection and lateral lining efforts are viewed positively.

Interdepartmental coordination was also key for roadways, trees, waterlines, parks, and available vacant parcels. Numerous City departments were impacted, with substantial coordination to solidify understanding and cooperation, facilitating ongoing implementation efforts.

With a diverse array of drivers advancing green infrastructure implementation throughout the country, lessons learned from Blueprint will provide insight into how green infrastructure can be incorporated throughout existing development in a manner that addresses SSOs and water-in-basement events.

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