Efforts have been underway to make sure Mill Creek MetroParks stays open and that there isn't sewage found in its waters.  

New "green" technology is now being used across the city to try and prevent the disaster that took place three years ago.

Fresh Coast Communities and The Colony Youngstown guided members of city council, students and residents on an educational tour of green stormwater infrastructure installations throughout the city of Youngstown Saturday. 

This tour was among the final opportunities for members of the public to participate in a year-long green infrastructure education program.

The education program, sponsored by The Raymond John Wean Foundation, The Youngstown Foundation and The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, aims to build awareness of the benefits of green infrastructure, the use of vibrant natural systems to curb flooding and water pollution caused by outdated wastewater management infrastructure.

It has also encouraged public participation in the city's green infrastructure planning process, which is being led by Fresh Coast.

In August 2017, Youngstown City Council approved a Fresh Coast proposal to develop a city-wide green infrastructure plan that prioritizes opportunities for community revitalization.

Youngstown firefighters flooded a parking lot Saturday to show how a system of pavers, or "green" technology, works to prevent flooding or pooling of water.

The water is directed to rain gardens and to the city's sewer system.

While Youngstown is among hundreds of U.S. cities investing in green stormwater infrastructure, it is among the first to undertake such a comprehensive and inclusive approach to planning.

"We have some permeable pavers here, they absorb water, they go to an underdrain system and a storage volume area underneath the pavers, and they're detained and released at a controlled rate into the city system," said Chuck Sasho, Deputy Director of Youngstown Public Works. 

At Mill Creek MetroParks, steps are also being taken to reduce flooding after massive rainfall and extreme flooding that led to fish kills and closing of waters back in 2015.

One system being used is a biofiltration rain garden that helps absorb rainwater and filter out pollutants before it reaches the storm system.

Bioswails or plants with long root structures native to the area have also been reintroduced.

"This is absolutely fundamental for Mill Creek MetroParks. All the issues regarding fish kills and closing of waterways are all related to the combination of raw sewage with rainwater," said April Mendez, Vice President of Programs at Fresh Coast Communities. 

The Colony said its main goal is to mobilize people to support important issues to improve Youngstown.

Its Executive Director said the eco-friendly technology also serves a more critical purpose as it directs rainwater runoff into rain gardens to help clean the water.

"Clean, fresh water is a finite resource, it is something we do not have an unlimited supply of," said Executive Director Keland Logan. 

To date, Fresh Coast Communities and The Colony Youngstown have hosted seven workshops across the City to educate residents and gather community input to prioritize designs and locations.

More than 150 residents have attended so far. The public input, collected via workshops and a public survey, will inform the City's green infrastructure plans which will be presented to City Council for selection and approval later this year.