Learn how you can protect your property from water damage and help improve water quality and the drainage on your property.
Make the most of rainwater on your property
By adding stormwater management measures, such as green infrastructure, you can capture stormwater to water your lawns and gardens.
Green infrastructure is an environmentally-friendly approach to managing rainwater.
There are many different ways you can incorporate green infrastructure on your property. For measures that require digging, contact Ontario One-Call before excavation to locate underground services.
Here are some additional ways you can collect stormwater.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions in the ground filled with soils, plants and mulch that encourage infiltration. They are designed to capture stormwater and allow it to soak into the soil below.
To make one, choose a flat location at least 3 metres away from any buildings or trees and at least 1.25 metres away from any neighbouring properties.
For the soil, use a mixture of topsoil and compost placed over a layer of loose stones. Native perennial plants that tolerate both wet and dry conditions are the best choice for a rain garden. Read Credit Valley Conservation’s Native Plants for Rain-ready Landscapes for a list of plants to consider for your location.
Plant your rain garden at least 3 metres away from any foundations, and at least 1.25 metres from any property lines.
Avoid steep slopes, areas under mature trees and areas with poor drainage.
Any overflow should drain onto your own property or safely into the City’s stormwater system.
Installing a rain barrel at the end of your downspout from your roof will allow you to collect rainwater for your lawn, garden, or other plants on your property.
You can also use large outdoor planters to collect rainwater.
Rainbarrels should be equipped with screens and guards to reduce access by children and mosquitoes.
Be sure to install an overflow hose to direct excess water at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from any foundations.
Disconnect your rain barrels in the fall to protect them from freezing and be sure to direct roof water at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from your foundation.
Soakaways (also called a soakaway pit or a dry well) is an underground pit filled with large stones that’s lined and covered with landscaping fabric. Downspouts directed to these devices help stormwater soak into the ground faster.
You can plant grass or a garden over the soakaway. Position soakaways at least three metres away from any foundations. Any overflow should be able to drain safely into the City’s stormwater system.
Before you start digging a soakaway or rain garden, contact Ontario One Call to check where utilities and underground services are buried. Keep any digging at least 3 metres (10 feet) away from the foundation of all buildings.
Protect your property from stormwater damage
During heavy storms, water can build up around your basement foundation if the rain flowing from your roof through the downspouts is not properly managed.
Ensuring water flows safely away from your home’s foundation and neighbouring properties can help reduce the risk of basement water infiltration.
Be sure that changing the flow of water on your property when renovating or undertaking project doesn’t adversely impact neighbouring properties. Water from rain and melted snow should be directed within your own property to prevent flooding of neighbouring lands, including City property.
Here are some of the things you can do to improve the drainage, reduce the risk of flooding and enhance your landscaping.
A downspout is the vertical pipe that carries rainwater down from your eavestrough to the ground. Your home may have several of these pipes directing water from your roof.
Disconnecting and extending downspouts can:
Reduce the risk of basement water infiltration
Enable you to capture rainwater to water your lawns and gardens
Keep unnecessary water out of the sewer systems and avoid flooding
How to disconnect and extend your roof downspout:
If possible, disconnect your roof downspouts and extend them at least 1.2 metre (4 feet) away from your foundation and other structures with basements. Extending them as far away as 2 metre (6 feet) away to safe discharge location on the lawn or garden, the better.
Avoid discharging water from your roof across pathways, sidewalks or onto the driveway to avoid slip hazards.
Be sure to divert roof water away from neighbouring properties, driveways and sidewalks to avoid ice buildup and slip hazards.
Follow our step-by-step guide for more information on how to disconnect your roof downspout by yourself. For more complex disconnections, you can contact a licensed contractor.
Install green infrastructure, such as rain barrels, soakaway pits or rain gardens to re-use the rain that falls on your roof to water your lawn or garden. Ensure that overflow can flow safely to the City’s stormwater system, and make sure that raingardens are located at least 3 metres (10 feet) from any building foundations and 1.2 metre (4 feet) from property lines.
Make sure that your property (especially within 2 metres (6 feet) of the foundation walls) slopes away from your house and neighbouring properties
Choose permeable pavement surfaces for hard landscaping, like driveways and pathways so that rain can soak into the soil.
Routinely inspect and keep eavestroughs, downspouts, ditches and storm drains on your property clear of leaves and other debris
Maintain basement window wells and keep them protected from rain
If you have a private catchbasin in your backyard or driveway, keep it clear of debris and blockages and ensure it drains properly
Pile snow at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from any building foundation where it can soak into the soil or drain to the City’s stormwater system. Avoid piling snow against the side of your home. When it melts, water can flow down and damage your foundation.
Ensure that water in downspout extensions can flow freely away from your home all winter
When safe to do so, keep roadside catchbasins near your property clear of ice and snow to help water flow away from your property and the roadway. Call 311 to report blocked catchbasins and for maintenance.
Remove as much snow and ice as possible before applying salt. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying salt to minimize environmental impacts.
Stormwater drains to the natural environment. Preventing pollution from contaminating stormwater protects plants, animals downstream and our drinking water supply from Lake Ontario is important.
Here are some ways you can help prevent contaminated water from entering the City’s stormwater system.
Keep litter, pet waste, leaves, grass and debris out of street gutters, catchbasins and ditches.
Avoid washing items like carpets or outdoor furniture on the driveway. Soap, detergents and cleaning products can flow into the stormwater system and pollute water flowing to nearby creeks.
Choose native species and plants that require less fertilizer for your garden to minimize polluted runoff.
Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and according to directions.
Avoid over-spraying pelletized fertilizers onto driveways, sidewalks and the roadway. Rain washes these pellets into catchbasins and into our water.
Store chemicals and other hazardous materials securely in sheds or garages according to the manufacturer’s instructions and dispose of all waste materials.
Dispose of chlorinated and sat water pool wastewater safely. Never discharge pool water into a ravine or neighbouring property. Check the Pool Water: Safe Water Practices for Pool and Spa Owners for more information.
Make sure your hired contractors who service your pool comply with the Storm Sewer Use By-law requirements at all times. Homeowners may be liable for polluted discharged or flooding resulting from pumping.
Dispose of pool filter cartridges with your regular household waste and dispose of leftover pool chemicals at a neighbourhood Community Recycling Centre.
Only discharge pool backwash water with a hose long enough to reach past the curb on the street. This protects neighbouring properties and allows the water to drain to a catchbasin.
Wash your vehicles at a car wash, instead of in your driveway. Water, soap and dirt from the car that falls on a driveway drains to the nearest catchbasin. Water used in a commercial car wash goes into the wastewater system to the treatment plant before it is discharged into Lake Ontario. This helps ensure dirt and cleaning products in the water can be removed.
Consider washing your vehicle on grass. The grass can help trap the soap and chemicals and stop them flowing into the stormwater system.
Maintain your vehicle regularly to make sure engine fluids are not leaking. Clean up any spills or leaks promptly.
Vacuum, sweep, and use rags or dry absorbents on your driveway to control spills instead of hosing it down. Driveways drain to the road or to private driveway drains that lead to the environment.
Dispose of cigarette butts safely in a non-flammable container until it is extinguished and then dispose of it as waste.
Dispose of all food and beverage wastes as either solid waste for curb side pick-up or liquid waste into the sanitary sewer system