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If we slow rain down by capturing the water and releasing it more slowly we can reduce erosion and pollutants that enter the nearest water body to our home. This will make it safer for swimming, and habitat as well as protecting drinking water quality downstream.

Disconnect your downspout from the stormsewer.

If the downspouts from your roof lead into a stormsewer standpipe you can redirect the rain to your garden or lawn. It's easy. The City of Portland has the best instructions. (Read more...)

Install a rain barrel at each downspout. Empty before the next rain.

If you install a rain barrel at each downspout you can save the water for a sunny day. Run a soaker hose to your garden. Move the soaker hoses around periodically to reach different areas of the garden that might be high priority. Try to empty the barrel as often as possible so it's ready to fill up again the next time it rains. Many communities have rain barrel subsidies and incentives so try to find out what's available in your community. (See: Locate a local office).

Enhance the urban forest.

If you've ever been caught in a downpour, you know that you can stay dry for several minutes by waiting under a large tree. That's because the leaves can really hold their water, slowing up to 30 per cent of all precipitation. That's significant! The rain drops then slowly shake off and/or evapourate over an extended period. A single large tree can save 1000 of litres of stormwater each year. So get busy and plant a native tree. LEAF's Urban Forestry Network has a Tree Benefits Calculator to measure the benefits.

Conserve water.

Household wastewater can run into surface water untreated via combined sewer overflows, sewage treatment bypasses, or leaking sanitary sewer pipes. Turn that tap off when you're brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, or soaping up in the shower. Install water saving hardware and appliances the next time you're upgrading. Governments often have rebates for making these changes. (Read more about water conservation in the home.) (See: Locate a local office and ask them what's available locally).