Did you know that water that falls as rain on your property can cause pollution? Many of the activities that we carry out on our residential properties can impact the health of our local creeks, rivers and the ocean. As our communities develop, the increase in impervious surfaces (paved areas, sidewalks and roofs) results in much higher surface runoff. This surface runoff from urban areas is called “stormwater.” When rainwater travels over our driveways and properties, it can pick up chemicals, metals, dirt and oils which can enter our waterways via our stormwater system.

kids-rectangle-grateThere are best practices that you can do around your property that will help you prevent pollution and manage your rainwater before it enters our stormwater system.

Power washing

Power washing can dislodge pollutants (like paint chips or oily sediments and cause chemical residues and soaps to flow into the storm drain system, harming aquatic life and habitat.

  • Clean sidewalks and driveways with a brush or broom, rather than power washing.
  • If you have to power wash, sweep the surface before washing and use absorbents on oil spots
  • Avoid cleaning compounds whenever possible.
  • Identify the nearest storm drain, and prevent surface runoff from entering

Painting

All paints, solvents and adhesives contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life in our waterways.

  • Ensure that all liquid paint products and wastes do not enter our storm drains.
  • Never pour excess paint on the ground or down storm drains.
  • Ensure paints and solvents are properly stored and/or recycled.
  • Be prepared for a spill by having absorbent materials and other clean up items accessible.

Pool and Spa Water Disposal

Pools and spas or hot tubs contain saltwater, chlorine or bromine along with algaecide, fungicide and chemical sanitizers. Draining these waters improperly can harm fish in our local waterways.

  • Do not drain water from pools, spas or hot tubs down the storm drain.
  • Properly store and dispose of chemicals and additives according to the instructions on the label.
  • If unsure, contact your municipal public works department for advice on how to deal with pool and spa water.

Pesticides and Fertilizers

Pesticides and fertilizers can pollute soil and groundwater, and can remain in the environment for long periods of time after application. The chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers pollute our streams, creeks and waterways if they enter our stormwater system.

  • Never pour chemicals down the storm drain or onto the ground.
  • Properly dispose of unwanted pesticides and chemicals according to the instructions on the label.
  • Use companion planting techniques, practice crop rotation and garden with native plants
  • Encourage the presence of beneficial creatures that will naturally enhance your garden and lawn (spiders, bees, ladybugs, frogs and bats).
  • Fertilize with organic compost that will not harm the environment.

Managing Rainwater & Impervious Surfaces

As we continue to build urban communities, native soils and trees are removed to create impervious surfaces. Impervious surfaces (roads, roofs, parking lots, sidewalks and paved driveways) prevent rainwater from passing into the soil below. The increase in impervious surfaces results in much higher surface runoff into our stormwater system, which can cause flooding, erosion, pollution and habitat degradation.

  • Reduce the amount of water going into your storm drain
  • Direct water from downspouts into a properly designed rain barrel or rain garden.
  • Replace impervious surfaces with grass, gravel or other permeable options.

Heating Oil Tanks

Home heating oil tanks can fail, leading to oil spills into our creeks and streams causing potential health risks or environmental damage that is costly to residents.

Report a Spill

A spill is considered an accidental spill, leak, or illicit dumping of a substance that may adversely affect the environment or human health. It is important to prevent land based spills from reaching the storm drain system. Learn more >>

Discover your Watershed

We all live in a watershed. Learn more about how to enhance your property and the ways you can clean, protect and enhance watersheds in the capital region. Learn more >>