Reep Green Solutions is proud to announce the much anticipated RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities! We worked together with Partners for Action to develop a guide for engaging communities on progressive stormwater management. This framework includes ready-to-use templates and resources on how to build a program to engage a residential neighbourhood on lot-level stormwater management.

Our work developing the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood Project in the City of Kitchener in Lakeside and Mount Hope neighbourhoods provided us with the real world experience to create this framework. The project ground tested several methods of engagement with homeowners to increase resiliency of stormwater infrastructure on a neighbourhood scale.

Municipalities can use this framework as an aid to develop their own strategies for enlisting community members help to manage rain close to where it falls. The framework offers practical suggestions to increase public awareness of stormwater management issues and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), promoting residential update of GSI, and fostering collaboration between residential homeowners, citizen grounds and municipal staff.

 

Download the RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities!

 

RAIN Smart infographic

This project was made possible with the support of Ontario Trillium Foundation, City of Kitchener, and Partners for Action.

 

after depave render

What’s a ‘depave’? Learn more about the project!

Join Reep Green Solutions and Sheppard Public School Parent Council as we transform an underused area of tarmac into a naturalized play space!  During the workday, we will work together to:

–  Remove remaining tarmac and associated gravel sublayer

–  Fill in the new space with healthy soil and mulch to prepare for Sheppard classes to subsequently plant trees and shrubs

– Clean up the Natural Area (prune shrubs, rake leaves, etc)

– *New* ‘Kids’ activities provided by Evergreen’s Neighbourhood Nature Play program

Refreshments and lunch will be available at the event but please bring a water bottle to stay hydrated. Dress according to the weather and be prepared to get dirty. We recommend long pants and closed toe shoes (bring steel toed shoes if able, toe caps will be provided). Families are welcomed to join, activities available for all ages.

Date/Time: Sunday, October 28, 10am – 2pm
Location: Sheppard Public School ( 278 Weber St E, Kitchener, ON N2H 1G2) 
Registration: Free
Refreshments + lunch provided

Agenda

All Day | Natural Area Clean Up

10am – 12pm | Remove Tarmac + Gravel .

12pm – 2pm | Soil + Mulching

Partners

Logo for Ontario Trillium Foundation, Depave Paradise and Green Communities Canada

 

Registration

The RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods Project is nearing the end and we wanted to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the Mt. Hope community. We are hosting a garden tour to showcase the various projects that have been put in the ground over the past two seasons.

Join us to celebrate this momentous occasion by showcasing the success of neighbourhood projects, meeting at the Guelph Street Community Garden around 5pm and looping back around to end at the community garden.

Take a tour with one of our RAIN staff and get to know many of the beautiful garden and stormwater projects throughout the neighborhood. Stop and chat with the homeowners and get some inspiration for your own garden projects.

This event is a great opportunity to showcase the amazing work in the community and celebrate the hard work and dedication each resident has put into their property to make the RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods Project a success.

Date: | Wednesday, August 15

Time | 5pm – 6:30pm

Location | Guelph Street Community Garden (250 Guelph St, Kitchener, ON)

 

 

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

This post is the second in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

Alexis and the RAIN Smart Home: Chapter 2

In chapter one, we met Alexis who is going to go through a five step process to reach her goal of having a RAIN Smart Home. These are the same steps that each of us can go through to make positive changes in stormwater management.

5 steps to a RAIN Smart Home

Step 1 – Thinking of Water

Some collaboration is needed to implement stormwater management best practices. That is where Reep Green Solutions can help.

There are small things you can do, like installing rain barrels, and larger projects, such as building rain gardens. Reep Green Solutions can provide RAIN Coach visits for a nominal fee. These visits can give you the extra information you might need to put your plans into action.

Step 2 – Coming up with a vision

Once you have a better understanding of how water flows on your property, you will want to think about your priorities for your outdoor space. Working with a landscaper or designer can be beneficial or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, get out that sketch book and begin to plan. This is where you can be creative. Build your space to enhance your family’s enjoyment.

Step 3- Taking Action

Some things you might be able to implement yourself, such as installing a rain barrel. Depending on your comfort level, you may want to try building a rain garden. Know your limits and when it is best to bring in a professional.

Finding a contractor who can help you with the work doesn’t need to be daunting. We have a list of a number of businesses that provide storm water management services. This is probably a good place to start. Be sure to get at least three quotes for bigger projects. This will help you find the contractor that works for you.

Step 4 – Involving the Neighbours

Organizing a work party can help bring a neighbourhood closer together. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbours, even the ones you might not know well, for help. Most people are more than happy to lend a hand, especially if there are snacks and refreshments involved. This will give your neighbours the opportunity to learn about being rain smart too, and who knows, maybe it won’t be long before you are helping at their work party.

Step 5  – REEPing the Rewards

Now that your project is finished, you get to sit back and enjoy it. You will be looking forward to the next time it rains, just so that you can see the fruits of your labour. You will be happy knowing that you did your part for the environment, that you have improved the value of your property and maybe even that you made some new friends in the neighbourhood. Oh, and each time that your water bill comes in the mail and you see that stormwater credit (don’t forget to apply for the rebate) you will be sure to smile. Here’s where to get started in Kitchener or Waterloo.

These are the steps that Alexis will be taking over the next few weeks. We encourage you to come along! Follow her through this journey, as she works towards a RAIN Smart Home.

REEP House - Built By CommunityThis Sustainable House is a monthly series of events that showcases the technology and displays at the REEP House for Sustainable Living and uses them as a jumping off point to explore other ideas and options to make your home more sustainable.

THIS SUSTAINABLE HOUSE

WATER MANAGEMENT FEATURES

A look at how you better manage rain to avoid flooding your basement by taking a closer look at the green features and displays at the REEP House for Sustainable Living such as our rain garden, soakaway pit (or infiltration gallery) and drought tolerant native plants, our advanced rain harvesting system, our permeable driveway and interior water proofing with dimple board.

Your sustainable home guide is Brendan Schaefer.

June 18
RainGarden-14 soakawayREEP House for Sustainable Living, 20 Mill St., Kitchener
AGENDA
  • Doors Open 1:00 p.m.
  • Presentation / Tour: 1:30 p.m.
  • OPEN HOUSE:  2:00 – 5:00 P.M.
Advance registration below is appreciated.

Brendan SchaeferBrendan Schaefer is the Facilities Manager at the REEP House for Sustainable Living, where he regularly leads tours and workshops on topics ranging from energy efficiency to water conservation, storm water management, and sustainable living.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 28, 2016

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.

If you’re worried about how you’re going to go about selling or buying a home, a REALTOR agent can help you. You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Here are some Benefits of realtors.

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.

Background

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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by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

local grand riverIf you ask most people if water is important, they will tell you it’s very important. If you ask them where Waterloo Region gets its water from, they will most likely say “the Grand River”.  The fact is that only 15% of our water comes from the Grand River. The rest, a whopping 85%, comes from groundwater. Now, you’re probably asking yourself – what is groundwater?

Well you’re not the only one unsure of what it is. And if we’re unsure of what it is, then how can we know just how important it is to preserve and protect? That’s why the Children’s Groundwater Festival was created.

More on the festival shortly. First let’s take a quick look at what we mean by groundwater.

What is groundwater?

aquifer grap hicGroundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.

If you’d like to learn more about groundwater, there are plenty of resources out there for you check out. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada has a site devoted to what groundwater is, where it’s found, and its importance to the environment.

If you’re looking for more information specific to the groundwater situation in our own backyard, you could check out the Grand River Conservation Authority. Although their primary mandate is protecting the Grand River and surrounding areas, groundwater and the river are interconnected, and what affects one will inevitably affect the other.

What is the Children’s Groundwater Festival?

Started in Nebraska, USA in 1988 as the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival, it was a 1-day event filled with hands-on education for 4th and 5th grade students.  It has since spread to 40 states, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and India.  Here in Waterloo Region, our Waterloo Wellington Children’s Groundwater Festival is a 5-day festival running from May 27 – June 2, hosted at the Waterloo Region Museum.

groundwater displayOur festival is a full-day program, with activities appropriate for grades 2-5. They will learn about stormwater management, water conservation, how showers and toilets work, and see a functioning model of our municipal water system, just to name a few. All classes are now full, but they are collecting registrations for their waiting lists. Talk to your child’s teacher to see if their classes are planning to attend.

Join us at Ecofest

Logo for EcofestAnother event in our local groundwater festival is EcoFest; a FREE fun and interactive event open to the public, celebrating the environment and sharing simple environmentally friendly lifestyle choices to take home. It’s on Saturday, May 28 at the Waterloo Region Museum from 9:30 am – 4 pm.

We’ll be there along with our friends from ClimateActionWR. Be sure to join us!

Managing your stormwater protects our groundwater

water planetREEP Green Solutions also takes the preservation of our groundwater seriously.  One of our goals is to help homeowners manage stormwater on their own properties, since it will eventually find its way into our groundwater. If you’re concerned about how your stormwater is flowing on your property, contact our RAIN program.  We’ll be more than happy to help.

Nobody can underestimate the importance of water to all life. Making sure our water system is clean and safe for years to come is everyone’s responsibility.  Letting kids have fun while learning about it all is just a bonus.

 

 

by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

planet and water

That’s right. March 22 is World Water Day, when the world gets together to celebrate one of the most important things to life on this planet. To find out more, check out the World Water Day website for Canada, proudly sponsored by RainBarrel.ca.

united nations waterWorld Water Day was created in 1992 by the United Nations to celebrate freshwater. Each year, the theme for World Water Day focuses on a specific aspect of freshwater. This year’s theme is “Better Water, Better Jobs”, with its focus on how enough quantity and quality of water can enhance workers’ lives and livelihoods.

World Water Day Celebrations in Waterloo Region

Numerous organizations across Canada and Waterloo Region are also hosting their own events to celebrate the day. Here are a couple ways to mark the day:

  • The Water Institute of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier’s Institute for Water Science are hosting an event that includes a panel discussion, keynote address, buffet lunch and evening social at the Huether Hotel. Registration is suggested.
  • Water Aid Canada is celebrating World Water Day by reminding everyone that people in the third world still do not have access to clean, drinkable water. They have the ambitious goal of making sure everyone, everywhere has clean water by 2030. They could use your help; check them out to find out how you can help.

Waterloo Region water stories

REEP Green Solutions is contributing to water education by providing information on water conservation, control and harvesting. The following articles are about the water-related problems members of our community have encountered and how they resolved them.

Managing stormwater at home

There are more stories about local people who encountered water-related challenges you can read.

Managing stormwater at work

Companies and organizations can face their own water challenges. We’ve highlighted a few stories showing the creative solutions they chose when embarking on their own green journeys.

  • Johnsonite (Canada) Inc.’s Self-Sustaining Prairie – Outside of their Waterloo factory there was an open field next to their parking lot. They saw more than just grass. “I’d love to see this field turned into a tall-grass prairie, a self-sustaining Entrance ramp looking back at the back corner downpoutecosystem.” Read on to find out how they created a natural greenspace.
  • YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre’s Icy Patches – Each year, especially in the winter and spring, ice, snow and water would accumulate in the cracked depression between the parking lot and the wheelchair ramp at the front entrance. See how they improved safety and controlled water flow.
  • Grand River Transit’s Award Winning Water Innovation -the GRT wanted to maximize their stormwater credit from the City of Kitchener.  Check out what they did to save $7000/year.Maintenance of the GRT fleet of buses at the Strasburg Operations Centre.

There are a few more case studies of the challenges that organizations have overcome. It’s very positive to see companies put the environment front and centre.

The Water Around Your Home

REEP would also encourage you to re-evaluate the storm water circumstances of your own homes, and how it community action rainmight be made better to the benefit of everything and everyone around you. If you think there might be room for improvement, REEP will be more than happy to review your options with you. Check out our RAIN program as a helpful resource available to you.

Show some love for water!

We cannot stress enough, how important water is to the survival of everything on this planet. We hope you will take some time out of your day to participate in an event, share information about the importance of caring for water or taking action.

And then sit back and enjoy a glass of water, and appreciate how delicious it really is.

We’re talking water all through April

We have a full month of blog posts, case studies and other information about caring for water planned in April. Come back to learn more about caring for this precious, life-giving resource.

Challenge:
Each year, especially in the winter and spring, ice, snow and water would accumulate in a high traffic area next to the Ontario Early Years Centre. Rain and melted snow would drain from the downspouts at the back of the building and discharge onto the sloped pavement, nesting itself into the cracked depression between the parking lot and the wheelchair ramp at the front entrance.
Description:
The YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre on Erbsville Road has been servicing parents and caregivers with free structured programming for infants and children up to the age of six since 2004. Stacey McCormick, the Supervisor at the Centre said that wet spots in the parking lot have been a perennial headache. To maintain the safety of their patrons, staff would take precautions by liberally applying salt to the icy spots to prevent slips and falls.
Solution:
The Early Years Centre’s landlord, the City of Waterloo, decided to address the problem by re-directing runoff from the rear downspouts underground to an infiltration gallery. A long trench parallel to the back of the building was dug out and filled with washed round stone. The infiltration gallery can capture up to 9,000L of water at a time. Any water collected subsequently percolates slowly into the ground. Since there is no basement there were not any concerns about water making its way into the building. During particularly large storms any overflow will rise up to the surface and flow out to the street.The work took a little over a week to complete but the temporary disturbance “was well worth it” says Stacey, “the families who use the Centre have been expressing their appreciation at not having to navigate the icy patch to get to the ramp with their strollers”. As an added bonus, since the change they have been able to reduce their salt use significantly in the winter. If there is any downside to the improvements… it means no more puddles for the toddlers to splash in!

9,000 Litre capacity

Project Details:
Location: 719 Erbsville Road, Waterloo
Maximum Capacity: 9,000L
Estimated Diversion Per Year: 785,000L

diagram of infiltration gallery at the YMCA Early Years Centre
Stacey McCormick, Supervisor of the YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre, Erbsville Road location
Before and After construction of the infiltration gallery

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo

 

As part of our RAIN program, REEP Green Solutions shares information related to living sustainably and our stormwater system.

You may be surprised to hear that the busiest time of year for car washes is in the winter.

That’s not the only common misconception of this industry. “There is a misunderstanding about commercial carwashes. They look like big water users, but in reality our services use less water and are better for the environment than washing your car in the driveway,” explains Mike Black, co-owner of Valet Car Wash in Kitchener.

“We recently put in a reclaim system which captures and reuses about 50% of our water. We did it because of the economics – our water bill has been cut in half.” Each car wash is now using about as much water as a load of laundry!

Valet ensures pollutants such as heavy solids, oils, and gasoline are captured before the water is discharged to the city’s sanitary system, to then be treated before being released. Whereas “at home there is nothing to capture harmful stuff that washes down the storm drain. Most people don’t think about where it goes, but it all enters our fresh water and our rivers without being treated”.

Mike hopes that education will help people try and follow best practices for car washing.


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