Stormwater management


Much like forests, streams and wildlife, stormwater is a natural part of our environment. Runoff flows over hard surfaces, such as rooftops and driveways, and across the land before reaching our drainage systems, and ultimately our natural areas, such as creeks, lakes and wetlands.

In undeveloped conditions, water or snowfall can either be absorbed into the ground, or evaporated from either bodies of water or vegetation as part of its lifecycle.

However, as our landscape changes - with more houses, businesses, roads and parking lots making up our city -- the number of areas where stormwater can be absorbed into the ground - referred to as permeable or porous areas - continue to be replaced with hard, non-absorbent surfaces. These surfaces can also pollute our creeks and watercourses, as shown in the following diagram.

Proper stormwater management is necessary to control erosion, flooding and water quality, and to protect our watercourses.

Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF)

From 2018 to 2028, the City of Kitchener is receiving $49.99 million in funding from the federal government for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF).

This partnership will help enhance the City of Kitchener’s ability to invest in important stormwater management initiatives that will:

  • Help to mitigate the severity of local flooding
  • Help to protect the environment, homes and businesses
  • Help to maintain drinking water quality

Where funding will go

Working with local conversation organizations, funding will help advance work for:

Stormwater management as part of the Water Infrastructure Program

  • Good stormwater management allows the City to safely control the impact of water runoff to protect homes and businesses by diverting it to our drainage systems, and ultimately our natural areas such as creeks, lakes and wetlands.

Watercourse restoration and erosion control

  • Erosion to water channels is a natural process that requires maintenance and restoration to minimize the risks to public safety, private property, infrastructure and the environment. Increased erosion can lead to sediment going into watersheds downstream, impacting habitat and the health of aquatic communities. 

Stormwater management facilities

  • These facilities, such as stormwater management ponds, collect runoff including sediment, debris and pollutants after a rainfall and snow melt. Proper maintenance helps to reduce localized flooding, control downstream erosion, and ensures cleaner water flows into our environment.

Why DMAF is important

The City of Kitchener’s Corporate Climate Action Plan is a commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

75% of urban areas in the city lack adequate stormwater management that helps to protect against flooding. Recent flooding events at the Walter Bean Trail and Kiwanis Park highlight the need for action. Now more than ever, our community needs to adapt to frequent and intensifying weather events caused by climate change.

This funding will implement important stormwater management initiatives that will help to mitigate the severity of local flooding that impacts drinking water quality, the environment, personal and business income and municipal infrastructure and services.

Return on investment

For every dollar spent by Kitchener ratepayers through the stormwater rate on their water bill, our community is projected to receive a return of $18 in prevented damage costs.

Stormwater management system

A stormwater management system includes three parts:

  • Lot-level activities on individual properties, such as rain barrels, downspouts and cisterns.
  • Conveyance, or the movement or transfer of stormwater, by means such as storm drains and sewers.
  • End-of-pipe collection systems, such as stormwater management ponds, where water is treated through natural filtration and settling prior to being slowly released into the waterways; oil and grit separators; and stream restoration.

By collecting water and soaking up rain, we can:

  • Help ensure less water flows over paved areas - reducing the amount of oil and dirt that enters our lakes and ponds and improving the quality of our water and wildlife.
  • Save the water for reuse, or release the water when the ground it able to soak it up.

Stormwater ponds and recreational use

Stormwater ponds are an important part of the City of Kitchener’s stormwater management, helping to reduce localized flooding, control downstream erosion, and ensuring cleaner water flows into our environment.

Stay safe. Stay off the ponds

Stormwater management ponds should not be used for any recreational activity at any time of the year.


  • Exercise caution around frozen ponds and bodies of water
  • Don’t wade or swim in the ponds
  • Don’t perform any water sports on the ponds
  • Don’t skate on the ponds
  • Don’t put any equipment on the ponds, such as hockey equipment

When these ponds freeze over during the winter, the thickness of the ice becomes highly unpredictable and makes for very dangerous conditions.

For your safety, please stay off these ponds. Instead, go for a spin at a community outdoor skating rink! Find the one closest to you.

Spring melt

A sharp increase in temperature during the spring can cause ice packs to melt rapidly, creating the potential for localized flooding. 

Flooding can impact properties, cause creeks to flood outside their banks and overwhelm city catch basins.

Here are some tips that might help residents mitigate the risk of snow and ice melt leading to flooding around their home:

  • Clear snow build up around your foundation, including window wells.
  • Ensure snow, ice and debris is clear from your roof and eavestroughs.
  • Snow and ice at the end of downspouts.
  • Ensure downspouts drain at least one metre away from your foundation and onto your lawn or garden areas, rather than directly onto sidewalks or streets.
  • Shovel snow and ice onto your yard, not onto the road to avoid blocking drains.
  • Be mindful of standing water around your foundation.
  • Maintain sump pumps by cycling at least once a month, and cleaning dirt and debris from the sump basin at least once a year.
  • If you notice any blocked catch basins on your street, you can call our Corporate Contact Centre at 519 741-2345.

Stormwater report card

To help ensure our current practices are achieving our objectives, every five years we conduct a comprehensive assessment of our stormwater management system and develop a report card summarizing the findings, as well as the effectiveness of our stormwater management policy.

There are four components to the report card: the physical, chemical and biological health of the city’s streams, as well as an assessment of overall SWM effectiveness.

Our most recent report card was developed in 2018, reporting on data collected from 2011 to 2015. Review the summary in each component in the accordions or download the full report card below.

 Physical Conditions
Vegetation that grows along stream banks provides several benefits to the ecosystem. This area is also called the riparian zone.
  • Vegetation helps stabilize stream banks and reduces soil erosion.
  • Vegetation filters out excess nutrients and reduces suspended solids in stormwater runoff.
  • Vegetation provides shading from the sun. This helps to cool the water, especially during summer months.
  • In-stream roots and overhanging canopy from trees provide fish habitat, as well as cover for fish and other organisms.
  • Organic debris, such as dead leaves, provides energy inputs.

Streams degrade when their banks are covered with less than 75 per cent of riparian vegetation.

Most creeks in the city are rated marginal for riparian cover (20-50 per cent), shown in yellow on the map.

Strasburg Creek, Idlewood Creek, and Kolb Creek are rated fair for riparian cover (40-55 per cent), shown in purple on the map.

Sandrock Greenway is rated poor for riparian cover (less than 20 per cent), shown in red on the map.

These ratings suggest there are opportunities to improve riparian cover throughout the city, especially during future creek rehabilitation projects.

View map of the physical conditions of the city's stormwater.

 Chemical Conditions

 Clean water in our creeks and streams:

  • Supports a diverse biological community;
  • Provides recreational activities within parks and green spaces, and
  • Contributes to overall human health within the city.

We measure water quality using a rotating set of monitoring stations in streams throughout the city. The Water Quality Index measures the quality of water at these monitoring stations.

Samples are collected in dry periods and in wet periods during or immediately following rainfall. By comparing water quality between dry and wet conditions, we can determine how effectively our stormwater management facilities are cleaning the water.

Dry conditions | The Water Quality Index has decreased from 2010 in Montgomery Creek, Idlewood Creek, and Kolb Creek. The index remained the same in Strasburg Creek and Sandrock Creek.

Wet conditions | The Water Quality Index remained unchanged in all creeks from 2010 to 2015.

Dry to wet comparison | In many creeks, the quality of water during and after wet weather, such as rainfall. This suggests that new or upgraded stormwater management practices are required to better manage runoff and reduce this water quality degradation.

View map of the chemical conditions of the city's stormwater.

 Biological Conditions

Streams and creeks support a wide range of biological life, including fish and aquatic invertebrates (the larval stages of many insects). The type and diversity of organisms in our streams is a good indicator of water quality and overall stream health.

The annual SWM monitoring program includes monitoring for both fish and invertebrates.

All of the creeks in Kitchener have a rating of marginal to poor for their biological conditions.

The conditions in Strasburg Creek south branch and Idlewood Creek decreased between 2010 and 2015.

Only Kolb Creek saw an improvement in its biological conditions.

Most creeks remained unchanged between 2010 and 2015 (Schneider Creek, Henry Sturm Greenway, Montgomery Creek, Strasburg Creek north branch, and Sandrock Creek).

View map of the biological conditions of the city's stormwater. 

 Stormwater Management

The overall goal of the city’s 2001 stormwater management strategy was to increase the areas that are treated for stormwater quality.

The Integrated Stormwater Management Master Plan, introduced in 2016, outlined an approach to ensure our existing stormwater management infrastructure is effectively improving surface water quality:

  • Proper maintenance, such as cleanouts of oil and grit separator units and catch basins, and removing sediment from existing stormwater management facilities.
  • Increase the number of planned retrofits of existing stormwater management facilities. These retrofits will improve or enhance the performance of water quality, quantity and erosion control.
  • Identify areas where new stormwater management facilities can be constructed when existing parks are being rehabilitated. This will increase the area that receives stormwater treatment.
  • Naturalize channels and reduce the number of concrete-lined streams. This will enhance and restore natural features and functions of these channels.

The map shows the areas of Kitchener that are currently being serviced by city-owned stormwater management ponds and the stream channel types.

View map of our stormwater management system.

Previous Report Cards:

Annual Stormwater Management Reports:

Kitchener-Waterloo partnership

We also partner with the City of Waterloo to help manage stormwater in both communities. These activities include:

  • Cleaning sewers, catchbasins and ponds
  • Removing obstructions in creeks and watercourses
  • Sweeping streets
  • Collecting leaves
  • Investigating sites
  • Responding to spills
  • Monitoring water flow and quality
  • Undertaking system rehabilitation, renewal and retrofit projects, as well as infrastructure projects (stormwater component)
  • Performing emergency maintenance
  • Developing stormwater management policies

How you can help

We all have a role to play when it comes to managing stormwater. Ways you can help us reduce the amount of runoff that flows over hard surfaces - as well as the amount of pollution entering our stormwater system, include:

  • Using a rain barrel to collect water for your garden. Rain barrels reduce runoff and help conserve water.
  • Disposing of hazardous products like motor oil, antifreeze, etc., by dropping them off at our local waste management facility. Never pour these materials -- or any waste products - into the stormwater system. For more information, visit the Region of Waterloo.
  • Washing your car at a car wash, instead of your driveway, to prevent soapy water and sediment from entering our stormwater system.
  • Sweeping dirt from your sidewalks and driveways and putting the debris in the garbage, instead of on the road.
  • Picking up pet waste regularly.
  • Reducing the use of salt for ice melting during the winter.
  • Ensuring your downspouts drain onto your lawn or garden areas, not directly onto driveways, sidewalks or streets.

In taking these steps, we can work together to keep our water clean and improve the quality of habitat for our wildlife.

Stormwater rate table

The following table shows our current stormwater rate schedule, effective January 1, 2021:


Stormwater Classification Code                               

Basis for Charge

2021 Monthly Charge

Residential Single Detached



Detached homes with building footprint* size of 105 m2 or less



Residential Single Detached



Detached homes with building footprint* between 106-236 m2



Residential Single Detached



Detached homes with building footprint* size of 237 m2 or more






Per dwelling unit



Residential Condominium           

Per dwelling unit


Multi-Residential duplex             

Per building


Multi-Residential triplex

Per building


Multi-Residential four-plex        

Per building


Multi-Residential five-plex

Per building


Multi-Residential (>5 units)

Per property (according to number of dwelling units)


Non-Residential Smallest            

26 - 1,051 m2 of impervious area


Non-Residential Small                   

1,052 - 1,640 m2 of impervious area


Non-Residential Medium-Low  

1,641 - 7,676 m2 of impervious area


Non-Residential Medium-High

7,677 - 16,324 m2 of impervious area


Non-Residential Large                  

16,325 - 39,034 m2 of impervious area


Non-Residential Largest

39,035 m2 or greater of impervious area


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