A graphic of a storm drain with the text, "Where does your storm drain go?"

Did you know that rain falling on your property can cause pollution? Many people believe the rainwater flowing off our properties, including roofs, driveways and roads, is treated before it reaches the ocean. Often, this is not true.

When rainwater travels over impermeable (waterproof) surfaces like our driveways, roads, roofs and parking lots, it picks up chemicals, metals, dirt and oils before entering waterways and shorelines via our stormwater system. As our communities develop, the number of impervious surfaces increases, resulting in more surface runoff, which is called "stormwater."

Though it may not be filtered, the good news is stormwater does have one important layer of protection – you! As homeowners and residents, we can steward our stormwater and prevent harmful pollutants and toxins from reaching waterways in the first place. Below are some simple steps you can take to protect your waterways and shorelines.

Read More: Preventing Pollution at Home Infosheet (PDF)

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 must 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.
  • CRD Infosheet - Power Washing Without Pollution (PDF)


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

  • Ensure that all liquid paint products and waste do not enter our storm drains.
  • Never pour excess paint on the ground or down storm drains.
  • Ensure paints and solvents are stored safely and/or recycled.
  • Be prepared for a spill by having absorbent materials and other clean-up items accessible.
  • CRD Infosheet - Painting Without Pollution (PDF)

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.
  • Safely 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.
  • Info Sheet: Pool & Spa Water Disposal (PDF)

Pesticides and Fertilizers

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

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.  Read more here about managing your rainwater.

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. Read 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. Read more >>