News Release: Projects demonstrate how to make parking lots rain ready


Planting rain gardens is the final stage of projects at Hacienda Sarria and Johnsonite Inc.

Waterloo Region – In early May, two RAIN program demonstration projects will be completed when rain gardens are planted at Johnsonite (Canada) in Waterloo and Hacienda Sarria in Kitchener. Both projects showcase methods to clean water and manage it using rain gardens. On Tuesday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, the bioswale and rain garden at Johnsonite (Canada) Inc., 560 Weber St N, Waterloo, will be planted. Then on Wednesday, May 4 from 2 to 3 p.m., there will be a rain garden planting at Hacienda Sarria, 1254 Union St, Kitchener.

Johnsonite’s Maintenance Manager, Joe Adam, once considered a career in forestry so he saw the potential outside their Waterloo factory of the open field next to their parking lot. So when he heard about the grants available for creating a RAIN demonstration project, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I wanted to see this field turned from a standard lawn into a tall-grass prairie, a self-sustaining ecosystem,” he says.

The project involved installing a bioswale and rain garden to capture and clean runoff from the parking lot. Water is stored so it can slowly percolate back into the ground. A bed of stones placed in front of the bioswale helps to slow the rush of water and remove any large debris and pollutants. With the addidion of native perennials, Joe’s vision is moving closer to reality.

See Johnsonite Case Study

At Hacienda Sarria, Patrick Doyle, the head groundskeeper, was interested in a project that would address soil erosion around their parking lot. When it rained, stormwater ran rapidly off the parking lot, eroding the soil at the edges, carrying with it oil and other pollutants, to the storm sewer downhill. Doyle insisted that any solution be both functional and beautiful to match the charm and elegance of the property.

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At the outflow point for their parking lot, a “treatment train” system was designed and installed to remove pollutants and soak up water from a large storm. It does this by mimicking natural processes so water quality improves as it flows through each stage of the “train.” A pretreatment trench helps trap any large debris in the first stage. In the next stage, riverstone placed on the inlet to the rain garden helps spread the flow of run-off to prevent erosion into a rain garden, which allows the water to slowly infiltrate into the ground.


REEP Green Solutions partnered with the City of Kitchener and City of Waterloo to create RAIN program demonstration sites, which promote practices that homeowners and businesses can use to reduce impacts from stormwater on our urban infrastructure and environment. Property owners who install rain gardens are eligible for monthly stormwater credits on their utility bill in Kitchener and Waterloo.

Chosen projects received up to $4,000 per project to offset design and construction costs, as well as mount an interpretive sign. Rain gardens are an important component of green infrastructure, which is recognized by all levels of government as a priority to help cities adapt to climate change.

REEP Green Solutions

REEP Green Solutions is an environmental charity and social enterprise focusing on energy and water sustainability. Created in 1999 by the University of Waterloo and the Elora Environment Centre, REEP exists to empower the community with the practical tools, knowledge and capacity for action to make sustainability the norm.  RAIN: An Ecological Approach to Stormwater Management is a Green Communities Canada program, delivered locally by REEP Green Solutions in partnership with the Cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The program helps property owners soak up stormwater on their property, qualify for stormwater credits, and protect the Grand River.

Johnsonite (Canada) Inc.

Johnsonite Canada Inc. is a commercial flooring company with facilities across North America. Their parent company Tarkett aspires to make all of their products using circular design principles. All stages of their products’ life cycles are examined for opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and create ‘circles’ where waste is eliminated or re-integrated into new products. As part of this philosophy their Waterloo factory has put in place processes to improve their energy and water efficiency on an ongoing basis.

Hacienda Sarria Inc.

The intricate Spanish-inspired architecture at Hacienda Sarria make it highly sought after for wedding receptions and corporate events. Hacienda Sarria’s roots harken back to its days as a sugar beet factory in the early 1900s. On the grounds of the former factory a community garden has been cultivated by volunteers to teach sustainable food production and provide local produce to restaurants and organic grocers. Hacienda Sarria collects water from its roof in a 5000L cistern for irrigation of its extensive gardens.



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