Every time it rains, a host of bacteria, chemicals, fuels and heavy metals wash off our lawns, driveways, sidewalks and streets and runs straight into lakes and rivers via the underground storm sewer system. This makes our waterways hazardous for swimming and aquatic life.
As our cities grow, we cover natural spaces with hard surfaces such as buildings, sidewalks and parking lots. This prevents rainfall from soaking into the earth, interrupting the natural water cycle. Hard surfaces increase the amount and speed of stormwater runoff, which can cause erosion and flooding. These hard surfaces also increase pollution, because the stormwater runoff gathers stuff like oil, gas, and other contaminants that eventually flow with it into the sewer -- and into our rivers and lakes.
What can you do?
If we slow rain down by capturing the water and releasing it more slowly, we can reduce erosion and pollutants that enter the waterbody nearest to our home. This will make it safer for swimming, and habitat as well as protect drinking water quality downstream.
If we allow more rain to soak into the ground, we can reduce the volume and pollutants that enter the nearest waterbody. At the same time, letting the water soak into the ground recharges our valuable groundwater supplies.
If we keep rain clean by reducing non-point source pollution, we can make our lakes and rivers safer for swimming, habitat and improve drinking water quality downstream. Here are a few common pollutants and how we can reduce their effects.
RAIN program in Kingston!
Red Squirrel is pleased to deliver the RAIN program in Kingston on behalf of Green Communities Canada.
As the local delivery agent, we hold hands-on workshops on topics which mitigate stormwater pollution. Topics include building your own rainbarrels, composting pet waste and improving the drainage on your property.
In summary, stormwater runoff impacts water quality and quantity by:
- transporting pollution directly into lakes and rivers;
- eroding shorelines and topsoil that hastens further runoff;
- warming up surface water, making it more susceptible to waterborne bacteria and hazardous to fragile marine life;
- overflowing sewage treatment facilities, allowing untreated human waste to flow directly into surface water; and
- robbing groundwater aquifers of adequate recharge capacity.