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Stormwater Management

Pinecrest Neighbourhood Rain Project

Graphics of the words Rain, Slow it Down, Soak it Up and Keep it Clean

Learn how to:​

  • Manage rainwater runoff
  • Add beauty and value to your property with low maintenance landscaping
  • Protect your home from flooding
  • Keep our creeks and rivers healthy
  • Connect the Drops – How do activities in your home and neighbourhood affect Pinecrest Creek and the Ottawa River?

The project is part of the larger Pinecrest Creek/ Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit plan to reduce the harmful impacts of stormwater. 

Upcoming events:

  1. Ready for RAIN Workshops – EnviroCentre and f.d. fountain Landscape Architecture and Design are co-presenting Ready for Rain - an informal, fun and engaging look at managing rainwater around your home. This 1-hour workshop will include: rain gardens, rain barrels, the dos and don’ts of downspouts and other tips.
    Saturday, October 20, 9:30-10:30 am.
    Please register. 
  2. Want to stay up to date? Follow our RAIN Ottawa PLUIE Facebook page for rainwater management tips and information on RAIN project activities in Ottawa. 

Enter to win a rain barrel kit!

How well do you know what happens to rainwater in your neighbourhood? Take this two minute quiz to test your stormwater savvy!

Complete the questionnaire about how you manage rainwater at your home and you could win a rain barrel.

A graphic of a house with a downspout, rain barrel and rain garden.

Activities included in the pilot project:

  • Information sessions at community meetings and events
  • Do It Yourself workshops on rainwater harvesting and infiltration landscaping
  • ​Interpretive signs along the Pinecrest Creek and Ottawa River pathways, a joint initiative with the National Capital Commission (NCC)
  • Rainscaping demonstration projects such as rain gardens and de-paving
  • The pilot project will help the City learn how it can best support homeowners across Ottawa to better manage rainwater on their property.

How is stormwater managed near Pinecrest Creek and Westboro Beach?

Like many of the City’s older urban areas, neighbourhoods near the Pinecrest Creek and Westboro Beach were developed with little or no stormwater management. The Pinecrest Creek/ Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan includes a long-term action plan to:

  • Improve water quality in Pinecrest Creek and the Ottawa River
  • Reduce erosion and flood risk
  • Improve the aquatic habitat in the Creek
  • Reduce closures at Westboro Beach

Connect the Drops and watch the rainwater story

story map icon

You can make a difference

We all play a part in reducing the harmful effects of stormwater on our streams and rivers. Simple actions like re-directing your downspout on to grass or gardens, capturing rainwater in a rain barrel for later use or landscaping to encourage rain to filter into the ground can make a real difference, especially when many people do them.

  • Get an umbrella and go outside during a heavy rain - where does the water come off the roof and where does it flow?
  • Take a 2 minute quiz to test how well you know what happens to rainwater in your neighbourhood. Complete the questionnaire on how you manage rainwater at your home and you could win a rain barrel!
  • Get more detail on the steps you can take to manage rainwater on your property at RAIN Community Solutions.   Help slow it down, soak it up and keep it clean!
  • Take a walk along the Pinecrest Creek pathway and check out the interpretive signs on the impacts of stormwater. 
  • Email to be added to our contact list for information about events in the Pinecrest Creek area such as presentations, hands-on workshops and community activities.
  • Learn more about the City’s stormwater collection systems and management practices and what you can do to reduce your impact on stormwater.

Pinecrest Creek/ Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan

A comprehensive study was completed in 2011 to identify solutions to minimize the negative impacts of uncontrolled stormwater runoff.  This is challenging in older urban areas where there is little space to install conventional stormwater practices like ponds.

This map shows the locations of three interpretive signs along the Pinecrest Creek, at Iris and Transitway, at the pedestrian bridge along the pathway and at the Ottawa River.

The Plan includes a combination of solutions to be implemented over 50 years:

  • Rain gardens and permeable parking lots on City properties to encourage infiltration where rain falls
  • Green streets to be installed as roads are reconstructed
  • A stormwater management pond to treat runoff from 435 hectares south-east of Baseline Road and Woodroffe Avenue
  • Encouraging private property owners to install rain gardens and rain barrels on their properties to manage rain where it falls

For more information read the 2011 Pinecrest Creek/ Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Study.

Interested in other projects that affect the Pinecrest Creek and Ottawa River?

Additional Resources

Slow it Down - rain barrel installation and maintenance

Soak it Up - Rain gardens, Soak-away pits and Infiltration

Keep it Clean

Protect your Home from Basement Flooding


Julia Robinson
Project Manager
Environmental Programs
613-580-2424, ext. 21609


Adaptive Approaches in Stormwater Management Plan

Adaptive Approaches in Stormwater Management Plan [ PDF 2 MB ]

Executive Summary

This report presents information which characterises the stormwater management adaptation planning environment and provides examples of municipal stormwater management adaptation planning, programs and projects. The City of Ottawa's current Council Strategic Objectives, Official Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan and implementing documents such as the City's Urban Design Guidelines and Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan all contain policies and directions related to adaptation to climate change and improved stormwater management. The characterization and the examples provided in this report are intended to advise planning for and moving forward to achieve the City's policy goals.

It is widely noted in climate adaptation research and reporting — for example in a Canada wide assessment of climate adaptation state of practice completed in 2012 — that "Though progress has been made, there remain significant gaps across Canada in the implementation of adaptation measures. Many sectors and regions struggle in knowing how, where and when to adapt." While there are many factors contributing to these "gaps," research indicated examples of planning, policy, design and operations best practices which provide examples the City may be able to draw on as it considers moving forward with policy goals:

  • While there is uncertainty regarding the scope and impacts of climate change for which to plan for, municipalities are acting with confidence on available information:
    • Climate uncertainty is similar to other uncertainties dealt with in municipal planning such as population and economic growth;
    • While the exact magnitude and timing of changes are uncertain, local, provincial and national scale reporting for impacts in the Ottawa area all predict a likelihood of more intense and more frequent rainfall events;
    • Updating stormwater management design methods based on the most up to date climate records is considered important, however uncertainty regarding climate change also suggests that use of climate change models to predict future conditions is an important tool.
  • While there is a lack of senior government policy and legislative frameworks for adaptation, municipalities are increasingly being recognized as leaders in acting on climate change:
    • Federal government actions have, until recently, been focussed on research, weather data compilation and reporting, as well as, support for communities undertaking adaptation planning which includes many projects related to stormwater management adaptation. The federal focus shifted in 2013 to support for resource based industries and efforts to protect industry from the effects of climate change;
    • In Ontario, the provincial government has focused on adaptation planning, issuing in April 2011 a five-year "adaptation strategy and action plan" which is now being implemented. "Action" steps include developing guidance for municipalities (on-going), updating the MOE Stormwater Management Planning and Design Manual (on-going) and updating IDF curves (completed);
    • Many cities understand that given their unique risks they cannot afford to wait for direction — or even financial assistance — from senior governments. The municipal level of government has become recognized as the leader in climate adaptation — an opportunity the City can consider as it plans to address policy goals for adaptation and stormwater management.
  • While there are a limited number of examples of successful municipal adaptation policy and planning processes, cities in Ontario including Toronto, London, Windsor and Kitchener are frequently referenced as state of practice leaders:
    • As climate adaptation including for stormwater management may impact many municipal functions and the "costs and benefits" will vary across municipal responsibilities, it is recognized that a corporate-wide and multi-departmental planning process presents considerable challenges;
    • Research indicated that Vancouver, Toronto, Windsor and Kitchener are frequently referenced for their success in undertaking adaptation planning processes, incorporating adaptation throughout their municipal practices and innovation in stormwater management adaptation. The Toronto, Windsor and Kitchener examples are discussed in this report. Vancouver and Windsor applied what is becoming recognized as a model process for municipal adaptation planning — the ICLEI Canada Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities program;
    • Research indicated that examples of planning processes for stormwater adaptation in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere concluded, essentially, on the same objectives, implementing measures and constraints. Regarding constraints for instance, Durban, South Africa discussed in this report, concluded on constraints which would be familiar to the City of Ottawa including: climate change factors into existing requirements for new development; justifying costs for climate change in the future when needs of the present are so great; and the politics of hard decisions on adaptation;
    • As climate related changes to precipitation may impact municipal stormwater infrastructure, it is recognized that infrastructure asset management is a fundamental component of stormwater management adaptation. Research indicated that 25 communities in Canada had used the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) Engineering Protocol to assess the climate risk and vulnerability of their infrastructure. Communities like Welland, discussed in the report, have undertaken the risk assessment process for their stormwater infrastructure and are now implementing the risk reduction recommendations.
  • While a limited number of examples of implemented stormwater management adaptation measures are in place and not yet fully proved out as cost effective through long term operational success, many of the measures being implemented are considered to be "no regret" in that even if climate change does not occur, the works which are being constructed provide sufficient value and many benefits to the community:
    • Research identified that a number of stormwater management adaptation projects are recipients of industry awards — indicating that these types of projects represent laudable "award winning" innovation and change;
    • Research of best practice compendiums and climate adaptation reports indicated that projects in Canada, like the Richmond Hill Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Facility and the City of London's updating of IDF curves (both discussed in this report) are recognized internationally as "best practices" in stormwater management adaptation;
    • Research identified that updating IDF curves is one of the most frequently referenced stormwater management adaptation measures. Four examples are included in the report, each of which demonstrate a different approach to the update process;
    • Research identified that incorporation of stormwater adaptation measures into existing and new stormwater management ponds is one of the most frequently referenced adaptation projects. Three examples are included in this report.
  • While there are considerable concerns at the municipal level regarding the cost of adaptation, many municipalities are recognizing that the financial risks of not addressing climate change may be greater and some municipalities are recognizing that well planned adaptation will, in particular for their own stormwater management challenges, decrease municipal costs:
    • Research identified that some municipalities are finding that stormwater management adaptation measures can be implemented cost effectively within existing programs. The City of Toronto found that their existing wet weather management program was an excellent vehicle for adaptation measures. The City of Welland found that their risks were manageable through their ongoing infrastructure rehabilitation program;
    • Research identified that municipalities, like the City of Chicago through their "green streets" program discussed in this report, are finding that "green" solutions to stormwater management for road drainage, combined sewer overflow and natural channel erosion protection are less expensive than "grey" solutions, and that they provide considerable and significant community benefits.


Throughout this report, examples of stormwater management adaptation planning in other municipalities are highlighted. Section 13 (pg. 62) of this report summarizes candidate opportunities:

  • Develop a common understanding of stormwater management adaptation
  • Develop a stormwater management adaptation plan, plan for adaptation as a process and develop a framework of themes
  • Promote the use of green infrastructure
  • Review the Welland infrastructure vulnerability assessment — a recent and relevant example
  • Incorporate adaptation measures as part of planned infrastructure rehabilitation
  • Ensure an interdisciplinary approach to incorporating adaptation into municipal practice
  • Review the City's standby power capacity in consideration of climate risks
  • Develop City stormwater management model tools to incorporate options for considering adaptation
  • Review the many approaches to updating Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IDF) curves
  • Review and understand the many approaches to considering the cost of climate adaptation

Rain barrel tips

Rain barrels are a great way to collect water to use on your lawn and garden. You will save on your water bill and keep water in the ground instead of the storm sewers.

  • Selecting a rain barrel – rain barrels are available locally at garden supply and hardware stores.  Often, rain barrels can also be purchased through local fundraising events.  Features to look for when purchasing a rain barrel:
    • Child-safe, non-removable lid;
    • Built-in, secure mosquito and debris screening; and
    • Overflow and linking options (to other barrels).
  • Location, location, location -place your rain barrel near where the water will be used; whether it’s for washing the car and gardening tools, or watering the flower beds and the lawn.  Rain barrels should be placed on a solid, strong, level surface.  A full 200L rain barrel can weigh 200kg or over 400 pounds (weight of the water) plus the weight of the barrel.
  • Don’t drink the water – Rain barrel water is not safe for drinking, cooking with or bathing in. It is usually collected from a roof and can carry bacteria, parasites, and viruses from birds and animal wastes and chemical contaminants from roofing materials.  The warm dark environment inside a rain barrel can permit bacterial growth.
  • Water at the Roots - if you’re watering fruits and vegetables follow these tips for a healthy garden:
    • Keep rain barrel water off the leaves of edible plants and direct water into the soil around the plants instead. Drip hoses have the added benefit of slowly releasing water over time, keeping your plants well watered and making sure your barrel is ready to capture the next rain.
    • Wash all vegetables with clean tap water before eating.
    • Consider installing a water diverter to re-direct the first flush of roof runoff away from your barrel. This first flush of rainwater has more roof debris and contaminants that are undesirable in the barrel.​
  • Collect the max - drain your rain barrel after each rain event to ensure your rain barrel can capture the greatest possible volume; this may also help to prevent mosquito population growth.  To protect property, always direct the overflows away from foundation walls and neighbouring properties.
  • Protect your investment rain barrels and their connections require some maintenance:  
    • regularly clean and maintain your eavestroughs and downspouts,
    • consider adding screening and gutter guards to help keep leaves and other materials out,
    • ensure connections are tight,
    • clean and maintain your rain barrel annually
  • Winterize your rain barrel - Before the first frost, follow these simple steps to ensure that your rain barrel continues to last for years.
    • Empty the rain barrel and drain hoses completely.
    • Disconnect any hoses and leave the spigot open to prevent accumulation of water.
    • Disconnect the rain barrel from the downspout. 
    • Reattach the cut portion of the downspout, or attach a temporary flexible downspout. To prevent damage, direct the downspout away from basement walls, window wells and neighbouring properties.
    • Alternately consider installing a rain diverter for easy seasonal removal and re-installation.
    • Store the rain barrel and its attachments in the garage or other protected area. If you must leave your rain barrel outside, place it in a sheltered area of the yard, turn it upside down and cover. This will help to protect the barrel from the elements and water accumulation. 
    • Clean the rain barrel and screens and check for any damage.
    • Learn more about rainwater collection and health.

See more tips on how to manage rainwater and Soak it Up, Slow It Down and Keep it Clean!