Stormwater management

Apply for the stormwater credit program and learn how we work to reduce the impact of runoff into creeks, ponds and wetlands.

Stormwater is runoff that flows over hard surfaces such as roads, driveways and rooftops, enters drainage systems, and then goes into creeks, ponds and wetlands. Unlike sewage, stormwater is untreated when it enters waterways.

Stormwater credit program

To improve stormwater management on private property we offer up to 45 percent off the stormwater fee on your utility bill. The level of credit depends on runoff control measures in place on your property.

Our online process is the quickest way to submit an application for the Stormwater Credit Program. Have your seven-digit water account number on hand to get started. 

Guidelines for single homes

Residential properties qualify for a credit by implementing an approved stormwater management practice on their property. These are calculated based on the total potential volume of rainwater captured and diverted from the stormwater system: 

Volume (L)

Credit granted (%)

200-400

9

401-800

18

801-2000

27

2001-3200

36

3201 and greater

45

Approved management practices:

Rain barrels and cisterns

A rain barrel captures rainwater from rooftop downspouts. The barrel is able to store the rainwater for future use. A cistern performs the same service but is larger in size. The following are required, in order to qualify for a stormwater credit using a rain barrel or cistern:
  • it must hold a minimum of 200 litres/52 gallons.
  • the barrel should be positioned on a flat surface
  • the cover and barrel cannot have leaks or be broken in any way
  • there must be a screen on the opening of the barrel to prevent contaminants from entering
  • the elbow of the eavestrough must be attached so that water is flowing into the barrel
  • the overflow spout should not be draining to an paved surface such as a driveway

Tips:

  • the barrel/cistern should be disconnected for the winter months to prevent cracking
  • raise your barrel a few inches from the ground for better pressure and flow of water
  • drain your barrel before the next rain event to make room for more water
  • reduce overflow by linking two or more rain barrels together

Trees

Trees provide many benefits for stormwater management. A tree canopy intercepts rainfall and releases it back into the atmosphere. Root systems promote infiltration and reduce erosion.

For this credit, trees on your property are measured based on their diameter at breast height (DBH). There are two levels for the tree credit.

Level 1: must have the approximate equivalent of five trees on your property. Each one with a trunk the size of a dinner plate or bigger. The total tree diameter must exceed 130 cm (50 inches) to qualify for a 200 litre credit. 
Level 2: must have the approximate equivalent 13 large trees on your property.Each one with a trunk the size of a dinner plate or bigger. The total tree diameter must exceed 330 cm (130 inches) to qualify for a 500 litre credit.

Infiltration galleries, soakaway pits, dry wells and French drains 

Infiltration galleries have many names including soakaway pits, dry wells and French drains. Their purpose is to allow clean water to soak into the ground and recharge drinking water sources.

They usually take the form of underground pits that are filled with stone or gravel, providing a storage space for water while it absorbs into the ground.

The galleries receive clean rainwater from rooftops, so that groundwater does not become contaminated.

Tips: 

  • Galleries should be at least five metres away from the house to prevent basement flooding
  • there should be nothing blocking the flow into the pit or chamber
  • rainwater should be routed from eavestroughs into the gallery
  • eavestroughs should have gutter guards to prevent debris from plugging the gallery

Rain gardens 

A rain garden is built into a shallow depression in the ground that allows the water time to infiltrate into the ground rather than becoming runoff.

This credit requires the following:   

  • a quantifiable volume of water must be held on your property
  • water from impervious surfaces such as rooftops must be routed directly to the garden
  • water should soak into the soil within 72 hours of a rainfall event

Guidelines for multi-unit or non-residential properties 

Non-residential/multi-residential property owners can receive up to a 45 percent credit on their stormwater utility bill. For many properties, qualified stormwater management controls may have already been installed as part of the site plan process. When applying for the credit, it is helpful if you have a copy of your stormwater management report.

The credit is based on three categories:

  • Flood reduction or quantity control (up to 25 percent credit)
  • Pollution control or quality control (up to 15 percent credit)
  • Education (up to 5 percent credit) 

Flood controls

Controls include:

  • Rooftop storage: a flat roof designed to collect stormwater during rainfalls through orifice plates. The water drains through the outlets and downspouts to the underground drainage system.
  • Parking lot storage: allows water to be collected and stored before it flows into the stormwater system.
  • Underground storage: detention storage located underground in tanks or vaults that collects and stores runoff. The water is slowly released into our stormwater system.
  • Stormwater management pond: designed to collect runoff to prevent flooding.
  • Green roof: consists contains soil and vegetation on the rooftop of a building. The plants act as a sponge, soaking up rain water and preventing runoff.

Pollution controls

The credit received for pollution control is based on the level of treatment.

  • Enhanced treatment is considered to provide an 80 percent or higher total suspended solids (TSS) removal rate. Enhanced treatment is eligible for up to 15 percent credit.  
  • Normal treatment is considered to provide a 70 percent TSS removal rate. Normal treatment is eligible for up to 10 percent credit.  
  • Basic treatment is considered to provide a 60 percent TSS removal rate. Basic treatment is eligible for up to 5 percent credit.  
  • Additional credit up to the 15 percent maximum may be awarded for other best management practices implemented on site, such as a salt management plan or paved area sweeping program.
Controls include:
  • Bioswales: a vegetated open channel designed to reduce and treat runoff. They are formed similar to ditches and are filled with soil called filter media and vegetation that absorbs the runoff.
  • Oil/grit separator: a structure installed underground as a part of the stormwater system. It filters runoff by removing pollutants, sediment and oils from the water.
  • Paved area sweeping program: sweeping paved areas on a regular basis to reduce the amount of sediment, debris, and trash from entering the storm sewers.
  • Salt management plan: reducing the amount of salt used during the winter season improves water quality. The plan must be certified through the Smart about Salt program.
  • Stormwater management pond: a pond designed to collect runoff and it allows sediment in the water to settle removing some of the pollutants before releasing the water into our waterways.
  • Vegetated filter strip: a low-angled slope covered in vegetation that is designed to slow runoff from entering our waterways. The vegetation acts as a pre-treatment to slow runoff and remove sediment.

Education programs 

  • Customer: businesses that offer services to customers that may result in impacting our stormwater system may be eligible for the education credit should they offer educational tools. We require copies of the training material(s) to be submitted for review.
  • Employee: companies that have implemented a training or awareness program about stormwater management may be eligible for the education credit. We require copies of the training material(s) to be submitted for review.
  • Student: schools or post-secondary institutions that distribute materials in highly visible areas or add stormwater management to their curriculum may be eligible for the education credit. We require copies of the training material(s) to be submitted for review.     
  • Tenant/landlord: landlords who create and distribute educational materials to their tenants may be eligible for the education credit. We require copies of the training material(s) to be submitted for review.

Apply online

Submit information on your residential property using our online application system. Non- and multi-residential properties must follow the mail process below.

Apply online

Apply by mail

  1. Depending on property type, download the residential or non-/multi-residential application form (PDFs).
  2. Print the form, fill it out and submit by mail to:

Waterloo Service Centre
265 Lexington Court
P.O. Box 337, Station Waterloo
Waterloo, ON, N2J 4A8

Spills and protection

Anything that enters storm drains (the square, metal grates along the edge of roads) goes directly into creeks and stormwater management ponds, and then into the Grand River. If you suspect or know of hazardous substances entering drains, report it immediately to us at 519-886-2310.

Draining pools and hot tubs

Owners of private pools and hot tubs must ensure water is drained safely and in accordance with local bylaws. Pool and hot tubs can contain harmful chemicals such as salts, chlorine, bromine and algaecides that are harmful to aquatic life.

When draining your pool or hot tub, follow these guidelines:

  • water must not be drained directly into stormwater drains or parks
  • chlorinated pool or hot tub water must be dechlorinated before it is discharged (let your water sit for one to two weeks without adding chemicals, or use dechlorination tablets)
  • test your water before discharge to ensure it follows regulations - safe discharge levels for chlorine and bromine are 0.1 mg/L or lower
  • drain the water slowly on your property
  • if you have limited yard space, drain the water over time to reduce ponding and runoff
  • saltwater pool water must be hauled away or slowly released into the sanitary sewer connection to your home

Other tips for protecting the stormwater system

There are many things you can do to keep pollution out of the stormwater system:
  • use a rain barrel to collect water for your garden
  • ensure downspouts drain onto lawn or garden areas, not streets or paved surfaces
  • wash your car at a carwash rather than your driveway
  • limit the use of fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn
  • dispose of hazardous products (such as motor oil or antifreeze) at your local waste management facility
  • don't sweep debris from your sidewalks and driveways onto the road
  • pick up pet waste regularly
  • participate in the Yellow Fish Road program

Stormwater improvement projects

The city is working on a number of projects to improve the capacity of local stormwater systems.

Current pond improvement projects

Creekside stormwater management area, pond 53

  • completing a retrofit with full sediment removal and a sediment reuse study
  • anticipated completion date is the end of 2018
Trillium Valley Park stormwater management area, pond 48, pond 10 and pond 28
  • work includes design of comprehensive stormwater retrofits and full removal of sediment
  • retrofits may include enlargement, configuration changes and features to improve maintenance
  • due to the large amount of change being contemplated for pond 48, this project must undergo a schedule B environmental assessment process
  • expected completion is the end of 2020
Westvale Park stormwater management area, pond 3
  • work will include a retrofit and full removal of accumulated sediment
  • construction anticipated in 2019
Westvale Park stormwater management area, pond 4
  • work will include replacement of the outlet structure and full removal of accumulated sediment
  • construction anticipated in 2019
Churchill stormwater management area, pond 55
  • there is some remaining trail work to be completed along with the installation of a grate on the pond outlet in fall 2018

To inquire about the status of a project in your neighbourhood, contact the project manager at jessica.kellerman@waterloo.ca.

Completed pond improvement projects

Repairs to a cooling trench:
  • Columbia stormwater management area (pond 41)
A retrofit and full removal of accumulated sediment has been completed for:
  • Northfield stormwater management area (pond 20)*
  • Melitzer Woodlot stormwater management area A (pond 30)*
  • Yarmouth stormwater management area (pond 33)*
  • Dorwood Stormwater Management Area (pond 38)*
The full removal of accumulated sediment has been completed for:
  • Laurelwood stormwater management area (pond 12)*
  • Cedar Bend stormwater management area (pond 52)*
  • Royal Beech Park stormwater management area (pond 7)*
  • Conservation Meadows Park Stormwater Management Area (pond 14)*

* Projects made possible through grants from the federal Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

Creek bank stabilization projects

The following creek bank stabilizations have been completed and are now under maintenance:

  • Cedar Creek: about 150 metres of cedar creek between Cedarbrae Public School and Glen Manor.
  • Colonial Creek: about 20 metres of Colonial Creek at Lee Avenue and Castlefield Avenue.
  • Clair Creek: about 75 metres of Clair Creek off Coleridge Drive and McDougal Road.

Stormwater Master Plan

Check our plans page for the latest information on the Stormwater Master Plan.