July 15, 2012
Landscape Ontario, Green Communities Canada, REEP Green Solutions, and Green Venture have announced that they are working together with leaders in stormwater management to offer hands-on training opportunities to Ontario landscapers.  

The opportunities will include emerging trends in stormwater management such as rain gardens, permeable paving and rainwater harvesting for irrigation purposes. Workshops will combine classroom learning with practical experience.

Concern has been raised that urban areas covered with impervious surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, and roofs are a major contributor to poor water quality in Ontario’s rivers, streams, and lakes. “Every time it rains pollutants such as heavy metals and chemicals, nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen, and bacteria wash into adjacent waterways and the Great Lakes. Runoff from newer areas receives some treatment, however, it is not enough to adequately address the problem,” says Sharyn Inward of Green Communities Canada.

“Runoff can make water bodies hazardous for swimming and can negatively impact aquatic life. This is because traditional stormwater systems have left a legacy of polluted surface water,” states Inward.

There is a growing movement to improve on stormwater management in new developments. The legacy of poor stormwater management in older, more established areas requires immediate action, and this is where we can have a direct impact on the existing problems caused by runoff. Inward says a simple and effective way to improve on the present situation is to retrofit properties draining into the existing storm sewer system with raingardens, permeable paving, and by harvesting rainwater before it becomes a problem.

Building rain gardens, installing permeable pavement, and harvesting rain water will help restore the natural cycle of rainwater and improve water quality in communities. Rain is a resource, not a waste product. RAIN is a joint program of Green Communities Canada and its members. The RAIN program mission is to help property owners manage stormwater in an ecological manner, before it leaves the property. The organization motivates action to reduce pollution entering Ontario’s lakes and rivers via storm sewers. The program is encouraging property owners to:
  • Use rain barrels, cisterns and plant trees (trees hold up to 30 per cent of precipitation)
  • Install rain gardens and permeable paving
  • Avoiding polluting activities (spreading fertilizers, de-icing salts, flicking cigarette butts, driveway carwashing, leaving pet waste)

“As a landscaper you play an important role in making wise choices for both your clients and the environment. You are leaders in natural systems and can influence site planning to make sure maximum infiltration of stormwater is achieved, improving the health of plantings, soil, water quality and the people who rely on it. We can all work together to reframe how people feel about the rain,” says Inward.

According to Sally Harvey CLT, CLP, LO’s manager of education and labour development, the dates and locations of the workshops in Kitchener and Hamilton are not confirmed. Watch for LO e-news, or www.horttrades.com for updates.