Cincinnati aims to revise plumbing code to allow for rainwater harvesting by November

In early 2011, Cincinnati City Council signed a motion to develop a task force that would oversee the creation of new building code standards to allow for rainwater harvesting throughout the city. The work of the Rainwater Harvesting Task Force, however, may now be jeopardy due to a lack of clarity about who is responsible for maintaining such systems.

The initial goal of Cincinnati’s Rainwater Harvesting Task Force was to develop a code to allow for the reuse of rainwater for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. One of the concerns with such a system is the potential for backflow of non-potable water into potable water sources.

To that end, one of the biggest advances over the past year was the release of a new national standard in March 2012. And according to the Task Force, it is that national standard that is being used as a template for Cincinnati.

Dater Montessori 2009 renovation achieved LEED Gold standards, and also boasts the city’s first, and only, rainwater harvesting system. Photograph by Glaserworks.

“There is no community in Ohio that has a procedure in place to allow this [rainwater harvesting] to happen,” Bob Knight, Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati and the Rainwater Harvesting Task Force, explained to Cincinnati’s Livable Communities Committee on September 25. “Significant hurdles have been resolved in Cincinnati, and we are working on eleven additional items now.”

Some of the eleven additional items that still need to be resolved include the finalization of water quality requirements, inspection processes, certified maintenance protocols, metering, and development of tailored language from the new national code that will work for Cincinnati. Knight, however, is optimistic that the task force will meet the goals of city council and have an amended plumbing code in place by late November.

To date, the only rainwater harvesting system in place in Cincinnati was installed in 2009 at Dater Montessori School on the city’s west side. The Dater system, however, has not yet been used due to lack of agreements between various agencies and institutions. Specifically, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is concerned about being responsible for maintaining the system once it is operational.

“I’m afraid the direction the Task Force is taking is not taking us in the direction we want to be,” Terry Elfers, Chief Operating Officer of CPS, exclaimed. “CPS does not want to be responsible for treating water.”

CPS is not alone in their hesitation to move forward, as Greater Cincinnati Water Works has also expressed concern about where responsibility will lie in these systems that are envisioned to help reduce water consumption while also helping Cincinnati reduce water runoff as is required by a federal consent decree.

“The heart of the problem is allowing the agencies that are responsible for this decision, to be able to point to a standard that they can defend,” Knight explained. “With this model code, the agencies can now point to it and can say that they will follow this direction.”

The Rainwater Harvesting Task Force hopes to have the language in place for Cincinnati’s plumbing code within 60 days so that they can meet their deadline. Absent that direction and approval from City Council, the activation of Dater’s rainwater harvesting system may have to continue to wait, along with other potential systems around the city.

“It would be wonderful for the City and CPS if we could resolve this so that we could support moving forward with this project,” Eflers stated as he reminded the committee that CPS has served as a leader in the community when it comes to environmental sustainability issues over the past decade.

Cincinnati to launch searchable database of region’s multilingual students and professionals

When Chiquita announced that it would relocate its headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte, company leaders said that the lack of bilingual talent was part of the reason. The statement left a bitter taste in the mouth of the local business community, who has since worked to improve multilingual assets in the region. More from the Canton Repository:

The Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber has launched a searchable database of the region’s multilingual students and professionals, and has said it will spend the next few months building the database. Chamber president Alfonso Cornejo said that the goal is to connect those with language skills with companies and organizations who work with diverse domestic markets or operate internationally. It’s meant as a development tool, and also to showcase the Cincinnati region’s resources. It’s expected to be available for searching by next February. He hopes to have 5,000 people registered within three years.

2012 MidPoint Music Festival bicycle parking overview

The City of Cincinnati has partnered with the MidPoint Music Festival (MPMF), for the second consecutive year, to offer expanded bicycle parking options.

This year’s MPMF is shaping up to be the biggest yet, and as a result, city officials say that they will convert nine on-street automobile parking spaces into bicycle-only parking stalls. Each stall will include a lockable bike corral that can accommodate up to 12 bicycles comfortably.

The spaces will be temporary in nature, and will be removed at the end of the three-day music festival which begins today.

“We want to encourage festival goers to try going carless this year,” explained Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE) director, Michael Moore. “With all of the venues located in such a compact area in OTR and Downtown, this is a great opportunity to experience how easy it is to get around town on a bicycle.”

The converted spaces will compliment an existing permanent collection of structured bicycle parking throughout the Central Business District and historic Over-the-Rhine. Those hoping to take advantage of the bicycle parking options during this year’s MPMF can refer to the following map for guidance.

Film showcase to kick off this year’s MidPoint Music Festival

A pair of locally produced documentaries will be showcased tomorrow during the first ever MidPoint Film Festival, which is being used to help kick-off the three-day MidPoint Music Festival.

The first will is a film about the rebirth of Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, and the second is a new film highlighting the history of Newport’s seedy past. The festival is being hosted by Midland Film Institute and will make its debut at the School for Creative & Performing Arts’ (SCPA) Mayerson Theater.

Part of the film crew works on Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine along Elm Street. Photograph provided.

Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine, which was highlighted by UrbanCincy in 2010, covers the nascent redevelopment of the historically struggling neighborhood and how the interplay of social and economic forces is being brought out in the rapidly changing neighborhood. It is directed by award winning director Melissa Godoy.

“We started looking around and we found we were right at the beginning of this push. The history of the neighborhood, combined with its present-day components, really helped to make the story,” co-producer Joe Brinker told UrbanCincy.

The film has been shot in Over-the-Rhine between 2009 and 2012, and highlights some of the social struggles surrounding Washington Park.

Newport Gangster, meanwhile, showcases the gambling legacy of Newport, Kentucky, the original Sin City. The film highlights the scale of Newport’s gambling scene and how it gave birth to the modern gambling industry.

The event is free to the public although a $10 donation is encouraged. Both films will also host a question and answer session with their directors and producers. The film festival will begin at SCPA (map) Thursday, September 27 at 6pm. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP online.

In Cincinnati, orchestrated academic support boosts students from cradle to career

Cincinnati Public Schools has not only become the highest rated urban school district in Ohio, it has also become a model of reform for the rest of the United States. The targeted efforts made by CPS to improve its academics, in conjunction with local efforts by groups like Strive Partnership, have established the district as a national leader, and reestablished it as a trusted local asset. More from MSNBC:

There are indications that the early intervention and sustained support are working: The percentage of children deemed ready for kindergarten, while still just over 50 percent, has increased 9 percent since 2005. Eighth-grade math scores for Cincinnati public school students have increased 24 percent over the same period. Officials with Strive Partnership, which provides an organizational backbone to the collaboration, estimate that around 100,000 children and students participate in the partnership in some fashion.

The Cincinnati model has attracted national interest. The Obama administration has dedicated $40 million to a “Promise Neighborhoods” initiative that encourages community groups to form similar partnerships. Many cities have loose networks of educational, social service and philanthropic agencies. But it’s rare for a network to be focused on the singular goal of raising student achievement. Also key is getting agreement on a common method of tracking their work, said Greg Landsman, the executive director of Strive.