One of the most important (and easiest) things you can do to protect water quality is disconnect the downspout that directs the water from your roof and eavestroughs to the storm sewer.
What is it?
On most houses, eavestroughs run along the edge of the roof collecting rain and snowmelt, and move this stormwater to the vertical downspouts which were traditionally connected to the municipal sewer system. The connection between the downspout and the sewer is removed, the sewer pipe is capped and the downspout is directed elsewhere with an extension pipe.
How does it work?What are the Benefits?
By disconnecting the downspout from the sewer pipe, you are stopping the water from reaching the sewer system. The water can now be managed on your property. The downspout can be directed into a storage tank (a rainbarrel or a rain harvesting tank) to be used later, onto a permeable surface such as a lawn, or onto a stormwater management landscape solution to soak into the ground (infiltrate) naturally.
- It is the simplest and cheapest way to keep stormwater on your property and help restore the natural water cycle.
- A disconnection makes (unchlorinated, natural) stormwater available for watering gardens and lawns.
- In older parts of the city, disconnecting your downspout eliminates your contribution to combined sewer overflows helping to reduce pollution of rivers and lakes and making Toronto's beaches cleaner for swimming.
A few Tips...
- Direct the stormwater to a storage device or a permeable surface like a lawn, garden or infiltration system.
- Do NOT direct stormwater onto another impermeable surface like a driveway, sidewalk or paved path (as shown in this picture) where it will simply run off the surface and into the stormsewer.
- Direct flow away from your (and your neighbour's) house foundation - approx. 1.5 meters away.
- Avoid creating soil erosion - use a splash pad so the strong current of water does not erode the soil.
- Disconnecting a downspout can be done easily by the homeowner, with materials and tools costing less than $25.
- The only maintenance required is to clean eavestroughs and downspouts twice annually to keep them clear of leaves and debris. Installing leaf guards and filters will make this easier, but will add to the initial costs.
- Replace downspouts, eavestroughs and crumple pipes when needed to ensure clear flow.
The City of Toronto's free Downspout Disconnection Program is no longer available for homeowners.
As of November 20, 2007, the City of Toronto's free Downspout Disconnection Program is no longer available for homeowners.
On that same day, the City also approved the Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program that requires all Toronto homeowners to disconnect all their downspouts by November 2010.
Visit the City's Mandatory Downspout Disconnection page and "Do-It-Yourself" disconnection instructions for more information.
Once the downspout is disconnected, you can deal with this stormwater by letting it infiltrate (soak into the ground), or storing it for later use.