Weather patterns, including storm events, are affected by climate change. Climate scientists predict that the western Lake Superior basin will experience greater weather extremes and more frequent and intense storms. These summer and winter storms will unleash more precipitation that will forcefully fall.
In these storms, less water will be absorbed into the soil than with a slow, gentle rain. As hard surfaces like buildings, streets, driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots can’t absorb rainwater, there will be greater flooding and erosion as the water can’t absorb. Flooding will increase in low-lying areas, and more rainwater will flow overland, collecting dirt, grit and pollutants. The contaminated water will then reach rivers through the storm sewer system. Stormwater and sanitary sewers may not be able to handle the larger volume of rainwater.
Rain should be absorbed into the ground, where it can be filtered naturally and used by trees and plants. Any leftover rainwater can then make its way into groundwater storage, where it will be slowly released into rivers and streams over time. We can help protect our neighbourhoods from flooding and drainage problems by capturing rainwater in our yards. The rain that soaks into the soil will also replenish groundwater and protect our local streams from flooding and eroding.
Adopt a City Storm Drain in your neighbourhood to help keep our aquatic ecosystems clear of leaves, trash, and other toxic debris, and protect your neighbourhood from excess stormwater flooding during storm seasons!
Make sure your downspouts empty onto a surface that can absorb rainwater, like a lawn or a garden bed. Install a rain barrel at your downspout to capture rainwater. Use the rain to water your yard, and make sure your barrel is empty before the next rainfall.
Find ways to absorb more water into the ground. Plant trees, shrubs and native plants in your yard. Switch out hard surfaces such as paved driveways and concrete walkways to gravel or permeable paving. Build a rain garden—a landscaped depression that absorbs rainwater runoff from the roof of a house, garage, or other hard surfaces like a parking area. Install a soakaway pit or infiltration gallery to absorb large amounts of rainwater. A soakaway pit is a hole filled with gravel or other medium that allows rainwater to percolate into the soil.
As more water flows overland, it picks up pollutants that then flow into our waterways. Keep it clean:
- Pick up your dog’s waste to keep the bacteria it contains from being washed into the storm sewers and then into our waterways
- Dispose of hazardous waste properly.
- Do not litter, and pick up that litter you see. Cigarette butts are one of the most toxic items of trash. When thrown onto sidewalks and roads, rain washes them into storm drains, then into streams and Lake Superior.
- Choose compost or natural fertilizers that break down slowly, and apply only during dry weather.
- Avoid coal tar-based driveway sealants. They contain chemicals that can harm aquatic life.
- Us commercial carwashes that filter the water rather than washing your vehicle in the driveway