Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Elliot Alexander, makes this connection here…

The news entitled, Water from Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome may soon be used to flush toilets in the Dome was reported by journalist Rick Moriarty in The Post-Standard’s online website, syracuse.com, on January 6, 2013.  This article relates to the WRE domain of both hydrology and hydraulics. Hydraulics is applied through the use of a cistern water distribution system within the dome and hydrology is applied through using the cistern system as an application of urban stormwater management to collect and reuse precipitation. The article reports that Syracuse University recently received $1.35 million from a state grant to install a roof runoff collection system through the use of four 5,000 gallon cisterns. Roughly 880,000 out of the 6.6 million gallons of the Dome’s annual roof runoff will be captured and reused to flush the toilets and urinals in all 16 public bathrooms within the stadium. It has been reported that during an SU football game the Dome requires 10,000 gallons to flush the toilets and urinals; therefore the cistern collection system will be able to supply the water for flushing during two major sporting events when the system is at full capacity, 20,000 gallons. Syracuse University will save $4,000 a year on their water bill, but the real benefits are the conservation of municipal water supplies, reduction of stormwater infiltrating the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant, and lessening the impact of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) events. Based on my knowledge of WRE, the new story is accurately reporting on a significant WRE problem. The Carrier Dome cistern system is considered a green infrastructure (GI) system and is not the first effort in Syracuse, New York to reduce the impact of combined sewer overflows events. Rainwater cistern system is one of many green stormwater structures that effectively prevent large volumes of runoff from entering the sewer system, which reduces the impact of CSOs events (Philadelphia Water Department, 2013; Smullen, Myers, & Reynolds, 2008). After reading this article, I noticed that the Save the Rain program and Syracuse, New York GI movement wasn’t mentioned. Save the Rain program’s goal to reduce Syracuse’s combined sewers overflows by at least 95 percent by 2018 is the driving factor that inspired many of the GI projects that put Syracuse, NY on the map as one of the greenest cites in the nation (Millea, 2012).


Figure 1 – On the outer perimeter of the Carrier Dome roof is the location of the stormwater point of entry gutters that will feed into the cistern system located at the bottom of the arena’s upper bleachers


Figure 2 – The above picture shows an example of a 5,000 gallon cistern which there will be four of these massive tanks incorporated into the design

The hydrology and hydraulics urban stormwater issue impacts the broader WRE context areas of societal, economic, and environmental. The main environmental context is the reduction of stormwater entering the sewer system as described above. Another environmental benefit from GI is the potential to improve the water quality when precipitation infiltrates structures such as rain gardens and green roofs. The societal context is that GI practices raise environmental awareness and implement ascetically pleasing features into urban areas. In the book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv “links the lack of nature of today’s generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as attention disorders and depression”(Louv, 2008). This might just be a theory, but creating more green space in urban areas could potentially reduce the stress and boost the morale of the inhabited citizens. The economic context of this issue is that it is cheaper to implement GI system than to replace the existing sewer systems. The cause-effect between urban stormwater management and economic impact is described as cities such as Syracuse begin to get older in which urbanization increases and the existing sewer systems begin to deteriorate to the point of replacement.  This need for replacement prompts the opportunity to creatively replace the old sewer infrastructure at a lower price with GI and the cistern system being installed into the Carrier Dome is a great example of a creative replacement happening in Syracuse, NY.


(n.d.). Retrieved from Image of the Carrier Dome: http://www.covehurst.net/ddyte/brooklyn/oldpix/carrier%20dome.jpg

Evergreen. (2010, April 22). Retrieved January 23, 2013, from Newsroom: http://info.evergreen.ca/en/blog/entry/let-it-rain

Department, P. W. (2013). Philly Watersheds. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tools: http://www.phillywatersheds.org/what_were_doing/green_infrastructure/tools

Louv, R. (2008). The Last Child in the Woods. Algonquin Books.

Millea, M. J. (2012). Saving Rain- Making Every Drop Count-y. Clear Waters, 38-39.

Save the Rain. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2012, from http://savetherain.us/about/

Smullen, J. T., Myers, R. D., & Reynolds, S. K. (2008). A Green Approach to Combined Sewer Overflow Control: Source Control Implementation on a Watershed Scale. Water Environment Federation, 714-725.