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Stormwater is rain or melted snow that flows across the ground. Stormwater enters a drainage system, and then goes into creeks, ponds, wetlands or the Otonabee River. Unlike wastewater from our sinks and toilets, stormwater is typically not treated before it enters a waterbody.

More frequent, high-intensity rain events that can cause flooding are occurring because of ongoing climate change. The City is continuously working to adapt its stormwater infrastructure to a changing climate. 

Climate adaptation and flood reduction

The City of Peterborough designs and builds infrastructure to reduce the risk and damages caused by flooding. As part of our Flood Reduction Capital Program, we maintain a list of over 100 potential flood reduction projects. All of these projects will better prepare the City for an uncertain future of climate change induced rainfall trends. Examples of recent Flood Reduction Projects and maintenance programs include:

Storm water management

We own and operate a stormwater management system worth around $535 Million.

This includes:

Stormwater management ponds

A stormwater management pond is an engineered structure that collects rainfall and surface runoff (stormwater) from your subdivision.

Stormwater enters a series of catch basins and storm sewers, and then drains to a stormwater management pond. The stormwater pond temporarily stores, and slowly releases this water to prevent downstream flooding. The stormwater pond also allows sediment (sand and gravel) and other pollution to settle out. This improves the quality of water that's released into the natural environment.

A stormwater pond is designed to mimic natural features. However, it's not awarded the same protection as a natural pond or wetland. A stormwater pond is a piece of infrastructure, it will require periodic maintenance, and may be upgraded (expanded) or removed if appropriate.

Pond maintenance is important to maintain the form and function of a stormwater facility. If you have a concern with a stormwater pond in your neighbourhood, please contact us.

Spills and protection

Anything that enters storm drains (the square, metal grates along the edge of roads) goes directly into creeks or stormwater management ponds, and then into the Otonabee River.

If you suspect or know of hazardous substances entering drains, report it immediately to the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

Other concerns related to the quality of water in our creeks and rivers or for general concerns related to stormwater infrastructure can be reported to the City.

To protect our water resources, remember:

  • Take your car to a carwash rather than washing it in your driveway
  • Limit the use of fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn
  • Dispose of hazardous products (such as motor oil or antifreeze) at your local waste management facility
  • Don't sweep or rinse debris from your driveway onto the road
  • Pick up pet waste regularly from your yard and when walking your pet

Rethink the Rain

More frequent, high-intensity rain events that can cause flooding occur because of ongoing climate change. Flood risks can be reduced if residents, businesses, and government take action to slow the flow and retain the rain. Invite your friends and family to Take the Rain Gain Challenge and help protect our valuable water resources.

Rain is a resource that can benefit people, the environment and the economy. It's time to retrain our rain brain and gain!

Capturing stormwater

Capturing stormwater not only reduces flood risks, but also helps to remove pollution that has washed off of hard surfaces before it hits our waterways so we can safely enjoy our water resources. Did you know that if you put cigarette butts, oil, or medication into the roadside grates, it's a one-way trip to our waterways?

Take the Rain Gain Challenge

Tell us more about your activities and what you are doing to "Rethink the Rain" on your property by submitting your entry for the Rain Gain Challenge! You'll have a chance to win great prizes. 

Small changes directly improve water quality

Stormwater grate

Don't use roadside grates (catchbasins) for waste disposal.

Soapy water on a road

Don't let soapy water from car washing, oil change residues, and pesticides run off your property.

Pet waste water quality

Clean up pet waste (please!). 

Cellphone, call for water quality reporting

Call the City to report water pollution, blocked catchbasins or drainage pipes.

Neighbours talking about water quality

Talk to neighbours, the City, and organizations like GreenUp for ideas on how you can rethink the rain.

Household medications and hazardous chemicals

Take unused medications and household chemicals to the Household Hazardous Waste Depot on Pido Road.


Make sure your downspouts drain onto grassed areas and away from your basement wall.

Rain barrel

Install a rain barrel. Visit the Green Up store to purchase a rain barrel and take advantage of rebates offered by Peterborough Utilities.


Landscape your yard so that rain can soak away.

Permeable driveway

Install permeable pavers (surfaces that let the water sink into the ground) on walkways, patios, and even driveways.


Plant a native tree to help capture rainfall and reduce runoff.

Rain garden subsidy

The City is currently offering a rain garden subsidy for residential homeowners in the City.

Visit our Rain Garden Subsidy page for more information about the program and to apply. Thank you to everyone who helped inform the program by completing our online survey.

Rain resources

Low Impact Development (LID)

What is LID?

Low Impact Development or LID is a unique approach to land development that mimics the natural movement of water in order to manage stormwater (rainwater and urban runoff) close to where it falls. LID has the potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change; which can include managing more extreme storm frequency and intensity, reducing urban heat island effects, reducing the temperature of runoff, and replenishing our groundwater.    

LID uses small, simple design techniques and cost-effective landscape features that allow water to infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff located at the lot level.

These techniques are based on the principle of using stormwater as a resource.

We are actively working to implement LID into our own infrastructure projects. We also work closely with private industry to ensure LID implementation on new development, to ensure we protect our water resources.

Our featured LID project

Cleantech Commons is being developed in partnership between the City and Trent University. The proposed development will be an industry-leading example of LID implementation.

The first phase of development will feature:

  • 18 Bio-retention basins capable of infiltrating over 90% of all rain that falls in an average year;
  • 18 Tree boxes that treat stormwater and help remove debris and other contaminants;
  • A large infiltration basin also capable of infiltrating stormwater and helping to recharge groundwater resources; and
  • A constructed wetland facility that helps to further improve the quality of stormwater runoff and reduce downstream flooding during major rain events.

For more information about the development, please visit the Cleantech Commons website

Community groups and non-profits

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the City of Peterborough of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. The City of Peterborough bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Current and past stormwater improvement projects

Stormwater Quality Master Plan

We are working on implementing our Stormwater Quality Master Plan (SWQMP). The SWQMP provides a framework for improving how we manage stormwater and identifies priority infrastructure projects to help maintain and restore water resources.

The recommended strategy of the SWQMP includes:

  • Updates and revisions to our Official Plan policies and design guidelines
  • Increasing our community outreach and collaboration
  • Creating a sustainable funding model
  • Maintenance and renewal of existing infrastructure
  • System surveillance, inspection and monitoring to identify issues and make informed decisions
  • Identifying opportunities for new infrastructure where no stormwater management exists
  • A regular review and update of the Master Plan

Detailed flood reduction studies

Stormwater pond maintenance

Below is a list of our recent and upcoming pond maintenance projects, including a brief description of the work completed.

Removal of sediment and facility restoration to improve water quality and reduce flood risk:

Major facility redesign to improve facility performance, reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality:

Major sediment removal and/or facility restoration to maintain Ministry compliance and improve performance:

Public Works staff also undertakes minor maintenance activities throughout the year.