Slow it down
If we slow rain’s movement by capturing the water and releasing it gradually we can help our community reach acceptable levels of maximum daily load of pollutants that enter the nearest water body to our home. This will make it safer for swimming, habitat and drinking water quality downstream.
Disconnect Your Downspout From The Stormsewer
If the downspouts from your roof lead into a stormsewer standpipe you can redirect the rain to your garden or lawn. It’s easy. The City of Portland has great video instructions.
Install a Rain Barrel and Drain Before The Next Rain
If you install a rain barrel at each downspout you can save the water for a sunny day. Run a soaker hose to your garden. Move the soaker hoses around periodically to reach different areas of the garden that might be high priority. Try to empty the barrel as often as possible so it’s ready to fill up again the next time it rains.
Building a simple rain barrel stand can improve ease of use and increase water pressure for irrigation purposes. It is also a great first step to connecting your rain barrels in series to capture even more rain.
Remember that rain barrels need seasonal maintenance. In late fall they must be disconnected and drained. Re-attach downspouts so that water is directed away from the house, preferably to a place where the water can soak in. In the spring, the opposite happens. Rain barrels are re-attached, making sure that overflow is directed away from the house.
To capture and store larger amounts of rainwater many people are increasingly installing rainwater harvesting systems such as cisterns.
Enhance The Urban Forest
If you’ve ever been caught in a downpour, you know that you can stay dry for several minutes by waiting under a large tree. That’s because the leaves can really hold their water, slowing up to 30 per cent of all precipitation. That’s significant! The rain drops then slowly shake off and/or evaporate over an extended period. A single large tree can save 1000 litres of stormwater each year. So get busy and plant a native tree.
Click here for a list of trees and shrubs native to Ontario, compiled by former and present UW faculty.
Household wastewater can run into surface water untreated via combined sewer overflows, sewage treatment bypasses, or leaking sanitary sewer pipes. Turn that tap off when you’re brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, or soaping up in the shower. Install water saving hardware and appliances the next time you’re upgrading. Governments often have rebates for making these changes.