When it rains, it pours. Straight into the river.
Every time it rains or snow melts, the streets, driveways, parking lots and your lawn get a bath. Dirt, oil, gasoline, garbage, animal droppings and chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides are washed away into the storm drains. Ultimately, stormwater, and the pollutants within it, enters our rivers through outfalls – the big drains you see along the riverbanks.
Our impact on animals and the environment
Our rivers provide an important habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Our rivers are also our source for clean drinking water. Our everyday activities can have a big impact on natural habitats. Pollution from stormwater can hurt or kill fish, birds, frogs, insects and the plants they need for food and shelter.
You can help protect our rivers
Join your fellow Calgarians and help protect our rivers, fish and drinking water.
Be YardSmart. Protecting our rivers and having a beautiful yard can go hand in hand.
Consider adding attractive, hardy, low-maintenance plants that are wonderful rainwater sponges and filters. Visit our yardsmart section for recommended plants, trees and shrubs that help protect our rivers and require little watering.
Dust your driveway
Use a broom and dustpan to clean your sidewalks and driveway instead of hosing debris down the storm drains.
Pick up after pets
Always pick up pet waste so that it doesn't go into our waterways.
Dispose of hazardous products properly
Bring hazardous products like motor oil, lawn chemicals, etc., to a designated drop-off location near you. Call 3-1-1 or visit our Household Chemical Drop-off Program area for drop-off locations near you.
Care for cars at the car wash
Wash your vehicle at a car wash, instead of your driveway, to keep soapy water and dirt out of the storm drains.
Drain downspouts on lawns
Point your downspouts onto well drained lawn or garden areas, not directly onto streets or alleys.
Limit fertilizers and pesticides
Reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn that can be carried away by rainwater and lawn watering.
Use a rain barrel for garden watering
Use a rain barrel to collect water from your downspouts. You can use this water for your lawn or plants.
Build a rain garden
Consider incorporating a rain garden into your yard.
Be Yard Smart:
Build a water wise garden
The City's Stormwater Management Strategy
To ensure that we are doing our part to protect our rivers and wildlife, The City has developed a Stormwater Management Strategy. This strategy aims to keep storm water pollution at current levels, as the City grows over the next 10 years.
Around the city you can see this strategy in action through rain garden projects and the construction of new wet ponds and wetlands in established communities. The City also offers year-round chemical drop off depots, hazardous household chemical information and landfills.
Stormwater vs. Wastewater
Stormwater and wastewater are different things, and travel different routes back to our rivers.
Stormwater, or runoff, is water that goes from your property down the street into the storm drains, and eventually travels into our creeks and rivers.
Wastewater is water from indoor taps and toilets. It goes down the drains inside your house to the treatment plant, where it is cleaned up before going back to the river.