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How to capture rainfall today, to save and use tomorrow

Rainwater harvesting can protect our aquatic ecosystems, and reduce water consumption
Rain gardens are landscape features designed to capture stormwater runoff from hard surface areas such as roofs, roads and parking lots. Photo courtesy the Capital Regional District

With autumn’s rainy days almost here, now is the perfect time to think about preparing for the deluge to come – especially with projections that last year’s major rainfall events are likely to continue.

Why is this important?

Historically, the Capital Region’s stormdrain systems were designed to move stormwater off the land as quickly as possible. Today, we know that can damage the aquatic environment and the species that live there – like turning a fire hose on our local creeks and streams, devastating fish habitat.

Instead, to protect those ecosystems, it’s important to let rainwater infiltrate the ground, to help filter pollutants, store rainwater and protect aquatic habitat.

READ MORE: 2 simple steps to prepare your yard + garden for fall rain events

It’s why municipalities around the region have been installing Green Stormwater Infrastructure such as permeable surfaces, native plants and rain gardens, but residents and businesses can take steps around their property to capture, slow and store rainwater, too.

Not only will this minimize the peak flows and reduce neighbourhood flooding, you can also store and use that water later in your garden during the dry season.

Harvest rainwater

Rainwater harvesting simply means collecting and storing rainwater from your downspouts to use on your lawn and garden. Not only does it help slow stormwater runoff, it can also reduce your water consumption if planned accordingly and enough water is stored to water your garden during the dry summer months.

With many types and sizes of storage containers for rainwater, look for one that’s durable, rot -resistant and opaque, and with child, pet and pest-proof lids or covers. Look for valves for hose attachments, and screens or filters to keep debris out of the container and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Note: it’s important to use a downspout connection kit to ensure water is directed back down the downspout when the container fills, or have an overflow hose directed away from your house for heavy rainfalls. And do not use untreated rainwater for drinking, cooking or bathing. Rainwater harvested from asphalt shingle, copper, zinc (galvanized metal) or wood shingles /shakes treated with chemicals to make them moss-, lichen- and algae-resistant, should only be used on grass or ornamental plants.

To learn more about harvesting rainwater, click here.

Build a Rain Garden

Rain Gardens are landscape features designed to capture stormwater runoff from hard surface areas such as roofs, roads and parking lots. They consist of sunken garden spaces where runoff can pond and infiltrate into deep constructed soils and then into the native soils below. They need to be designed and installed carefully, however they are an effective option for managing rain water.

To explore the options of Building a Rain Garden in your garden, click here.

Take action now to manage your rainwater before the autumn rains arrive. Learn more at

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