Adopt a Storm Drain



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Adopting a Storm Drain in your neighbourhood can not only help keep our aquatic ecosystems clear of leaves, trash, and other toxic debris but protect your neighbourhood from excess stormwater flooding during storm seasons!

Learn more about this program by watching the Adopt a Storm Drain EcoTip. 

The City of Thunder Bay has 14,000 drains available for adoption. To view and adopt available drains, click here.

For more information on adopting a storm drain, please email ashley@ecosuperior.org or call 807-624-2658. This program is funded by the City of Thunder Bay and delivered by EcoSuperior.

Protecting Lake Superior


Water is Life

Lake Superior, also known as Gitchi Gami, and Lac Supérieur, is the largest freshwater lake in the world. This living waterscape is the source of drinking water not only for our City of Thunder Bay but for thousands of other people living around the Lake before it flows into all other Great Lakes downstream, where millions more rely on this life-giving freshwater. Lake Superior is home to hundreds of species. Lake Superior is arguably one of the most precious places on Earth needing protection. Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the governments of Canada and the United States have committed to protect and restore the waters of the Great Lakes. In 1987, this binational Agreement began requiring the development of Lakewide Action and Management Plans (otherwise known as LaMPs) for all 5 Great Lakes, including Lake Superior.



What Are LaMPs?

LaMPs are plans for cooperatively restoring and protecting the ecosystem of a Great Lake, to "restore and maintain the biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. The first Lake Superior LaMP was developed in 1991. 


EcoSuperior's Involvement

In 2007, EcoSuperior first signed a 3-year agreement (with what was then the Ministry of the Environment) to carry out the coordination, support, and implementation of priorities identified by the Chemical Committee Work Plan contained in the Lakewide Management Plan for Lake Superior.

In 2010, EcoSuperior signed a new grant funding agreement for activities, programs, and actions to support the priorities laid out in the Lake Superior LaMP. Ever since, EcoSuperior continues to work with the community, partners, and others to support the priorities identified in the Lake Superior LaMP, through annual funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).


LaMP Objectives

With support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP), our team continues to deliver a wide range of activities in NWO to help achieve LaMP objectives.

Some of our many activities include:

  • Climate Change Education and Actions
  • Stormwater Management (Rain garden installations & education)
  • School Presentations & Community Outreach
  • Invasive Species Monitoring
  • Pollution Prevention & Plastic Reduction
  • Cigarette Litter Prevention & Recycling
  • Native Fish Surveys
  • Open Burning Education
  • Hosting 'Big Lake Reflections' (A celebration of our relationship with Lake Superior through the arts)
  • & Other Stewardship Initiatives for Freshwater Protection

"If there is any magic on this planet', it is contained in water"

Lauren Eiseley

Stormwater Management


Our Storm Drain Education Program

Our Keep it Superior Storm Drain Education Program is designed to educate the public about the impacts of pollution entering urban storm drains. In our community, most of the water that runs off our streets and sidewalks goes into a storm drain, which eventually enters directly into our local rivers, streams, and lakes. This run-off is often contaminated with:

  • Micro-plastics
  • Litter waste
  • Chemical pollutants
  • Salts & oils
  • Pet waste

This storm drain pollution not only harms the health of natural resources, fish, and wildlife but our own. This can happen through a process called bioaccumulation, where toxins accumulate in the food chain and eventually become consumed through food or water.


Canada & Household Hazardous Waste

Did you know that Canadian households generate more than 60,000 tonnes of hazardous waste every year? Specifically, items such as toxic single-use plastics, old car batteries, lighter fluid, turpentine, paint, gasoline, used motor oil, antifreeze, pool chemicals, and pesticides are often used and then disposed of improperly, eventually harming our aquatic ecosystems. Other pollutants that commonly end up in the water system include:

Pet waste

Sidewalk/driveway salt

Soap and fertilizer

Single-use plastics

In high concentrations, these materials can have a highly negative impact on our aquatic ecosystems, which we all depend on for survival.


Where Does This Water Pollution Come From?

Water pollution stems from several different sources, including recreational, residential, industrial, and agricultural origins. Since approximately 70% of all city lands are paved, only half of the precipitation that falls touches the soil. The other half picks up the thousands of pounds of debris, waste, and chemicals along their path of flow. Unfortunately, these items eventually find their way into a storm drain system- causing water pollution.

How You Can Help

Want to help protect our local water quality from the impacts of contaminated runoff? Follow these quick & easy tips!
  1. Avoid pouring toxic items down your drain at home or municipal storm drain
  2. Install a rain barrel under your downspout to conserve & reduce water run-off
  3. Buy low-waste, plastic-free items to divert toxic single-use plastics from entering our ecosystems
  4. Pick up plastic waste and microplastic ‘nurdles' when you see them
  5. Add a rain garden to your at-home landscape to filter precipitation
  6. Add more permeable surfaces in your yard to soak up the water, like gardens, lawns, and shrubs
  7. Pick up pet waste regularly
  8. Choose a commercial car wash over washing in your driveway! Commercial car wash water goes through the sewer system and is treated before it is discharged back into the ecosystem
  9. Maintain your vehicle and fix leaks promptly
  10. Avoid using salt or chemical ice-melters

Rain Gardens


rain garden installed in a backyard

What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are landscaped features that temporarily capture and filter stormwater (rain & melted snow) that runs off of building rooftops, driveways, patios, or other hard surfaces like a parking lot. 

A rain garden consists of a shallow, bowl-shaped depression formed along the natural slope of a landscape, generally composed of loose and deep soil, native perennial shrubs, grasses, and flowers. These features mimic natural systems, helping to soak up and clean contaminated runoff before it enters the nearest waterway. Rain gardens come in many shapes and sizes, and can be made to complement your residential landscape.


Why build a rain garden?

Rain gardens not only beautify your property, but they also have the added function of improving residential drainage and protecting urban waterways. Rain gardens can help:

  • Filter and prevent pollutants from entering municipal storm drains, which empty into local streams and rivers that drain to Lake Superior
  • Reduce the potential for localized flooding and drainage issues
  • Create habitat for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects
  • Control up to 100% of runoff* from an average rainfall (based upon design)
    rain garden diagram


    What is stormwater runoff?

    Simply put, stormwater runoff is the water that runs off the land, or another hard surface, during a heavy rainfall or snowmelt event rather than soaking into the ground where it falls. 

    Why Is This a Problem?

    After heavy rainfall or snowmelt in an urban setting, stormwater flows along hard surfaces like sidewalks, driveways and streets, looking for somewhere to settle. Common pollutants, including lawn fertilizers, engine oil, pet waste, cigarette butts, plastics, and other litter, are picked up and mixed into the runoff along the way. This contaminated stormwater eventually flows into a nearby storm drain.

    Stormwater is generally not cleaned or treated before it enters a storm drain. These drains discharge into the nearest waterway, like McVicar Creek, the McIntyre River, Neebing River, or Current River, to name just a few in the Thunder Bay area. Because these rivers and streams empty into Lake Superior, any contaminated stormwater runoff has a direct impact on the natural environment, wildlife habitat, and our drinking water. 

    By installing a rain garden on your property, you can help capture runoff from your home rooftop, which reduces the volume of runoff flowing into municipal storm drains. 

    fresh rain garden

    Summarized Benefits:

    • Helps to control runoff during heavy rainfalls
    • Improves drainage at the lot level
    • Helps to reduce erosion in local rivers and streams
    • Provides habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and wildlife
    • Reduces mowing and associated maintenance
    • Recharges groundwater
    • Improves local water quality
    • Beautifies your residential property



    rain garden tour

    Is a Rain Garden Right for You? 

    1. Rain gardens are ideally gravity-fed by a downspout connected to a rooftop or other hard surface.
    2. They drain completely in about 24 hours or less and,
    3. Are located at least 3 metres from a building foundation or nearby home.

    Learn more: