“Going Green” to help ease Lancaster’s wastewater problem

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The city of Lancaster is getting greener, as more and more people incorporate eco-friendly features into their homes and businesses. But they’re not only helping the environment, they’re also tackling a serious problem many older cities face.

Susan Matos’ Lancaster house is a light orange color, but it’s also very green. She has a green rooftop covered with plants and plenty of other shrubs and greenery to absorb and slow down storm water.

She uses the water she collects in rain barrels for her plants. It’s a simple project that can make a big impact.

“A rain barrel is an extremely accessible thing, water rates have gone up and if you’re not interested from the standpoint of,  ‘let’s do something beneficial to be environment,’ at the very least you’re going to save some money on your watering,” she said.

Matos is helping out her city as well.

Like many older cities, Lancaster has a combined waste water and storm water system. It was innovative back in its day, but now it’s a huge problem.

“When it rains very, very heavy, storm water, rain, goes the same place as sewer water,” said Rick Gray, Lancaster’s mayor. “It’s combined, we have a combined system. When it rains very heavy, we can’t handle that.”

The back-up ends up flooding the streets, tearing up roads and damaging property.

It also causes some 750 million gallons of polluted, untreated water to be dumped into the Conestoga River each year.

Live Green Director Fritz Schroeder is the man to talk to about urban greening. He’s helping to implement the city’s 25-year plan to take a billion gallons of water out of its combined sewer system through green initiatives.

“Any restoration that we can do along these waterways to keep them cleaner, has a huge impact both on human health, our environment and our local and regional economies,” Schroeder said.

Every tree planted, green roof installed, garden sowed and rain barrel put in is helping the city achieve that goal.

“All of those things kind of come together in a whole lifestyle really and doing the house and the garden is all part of it,” Matos said.

To find out more about ways you can make your home and business greener, you can contact Fritz Schroeder at LIVE Green and visit its website here.

For more information about the city’s Save It! Lancaster initiative and how you can do your part, visit its website here.

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