As most Toronto homeowners know (or have heard a bit about) there is a by-law to have downspouts removed from city drains. The city is focusing on the downtown area first because some of the sewer system there is called a combined system. This is where the water coming off your roof may mix with the sewage system. This is a major problem when we get a heavy downpour. The water treatment facilities become overloaded and dump raw sewage into the rivers and lake.Not great if you are one of those who like to swim in the lake in the summer. Anyone who cares for Toronto's water quality may be concerned as well. The deadline for this area is November 20, 2011
Second in priority is an area from about Steeles Ave down to Eglinton Ave, including most of North York. (Check link to map below as this is approximate.) This area has a newer system and is not considered a combined system but still has problems in dealing with all the roof water being added to the storm sewer system. Problems are encountered during heavy rains. The volume is too much and they become overloaded causing the water to back up into your basement. All this water off your roof also concentrates in the creeks and streams causing flooding and erosion. The deadline for this area is December 3, 2013.
Program experts with the City of Toronto can be reached at 416 392 1807 to help clarify any questions you have.
The remainder of the Toronto needs to be disconnected by December 3, 2016, including parts most of Scarborough and Etobicoke.
Key points to make the process easier:
1. Not every downpipe will have to be removed from the drains. The city of Toronto does not expect to have every downpipe removed. You must determine if the property is graded properly to drain water away from your home. Keep in mind that the water must not flow towards the neighbours and create a problem for them either. (If having waterproofing work done on the exterior of your home, do not allow the contractor to remove any of the drains unless there is a plan to relocate the downpipe or allow the water to safely flow away from your home.)
2. Keep water back from sidewalks.
3. If the downpipe cannot drain safely onto the ground in the position it is in then, you must look at the possibility of moving it to another location if feasible. This can sometimes require extensive regrading or replacing of the eavestrough (depending on age of the system).
4. Enlisting the help of an eavestrough/gutter professional will help clarify what is possible and what is not.
5. Some downpipe disconnects require not much more than a few simple tools, an elbow and a piece of downpipe. These are easy for just about anybody to do. We have posted a video below for those who want to do this project themselves. We also provide a link to Toronto's do it yourself guidelines below.
6. If a downpipe is in a poor location it is sometimes possible to delete it completely by using larger downpipes to handle the extra flow and proper grading of the eavestrough to a new location.
7. The homeowner and knowledgeable contractor must determine which downpipes can be safely disconnected. If there seems to be no solution then the homeowner must apply for an exemption.
8. For downpipes that cross walkways consider digging under walkways using 4 inch PVC pipe so that there is no downpipe extension to get in the way. If the property slopes away from the home quickly then this is very easy to do. If the property is more flat then a pop up drain system may be more suitable. The only drawback of this system is that the underground pipes usually stay full of ice in the winter.
9. Draining water onto driveways is not a great alternative for improving the city's water quality as the water just flows out to the street and into a storm drain. This defeats the purpose of the disconnect and can be icy in the winter.
10. It's a great time to think about taking things one step farther and incorporating a rain barrel into your eavestrough system and harvest some of that water for a later time. If hooking up a barrel you will need to add a Y diverter so the barrel can be removed in winter and also redirect the water when the barrel is full. Rain barrels fill very quickly so do not depend on them to contain all the water from a downpipe.
11. Poor grading around your home that can be fixed by filling sunken areas with clay will help get the water away properly. You are expected to do this if it means that the downpipe can be disconnected properly.
12. If unsure of the grading/slope of your ground around your home you can test an area before disconnecting your pipe. Simply turn your garden hose on and let it run for awhile where you plan to put your new downspout. Within a half hour of running the hose you will see where the water is going to go and make decisions based on this information.
13. Built up flower beds around homes are usually not good areas to drain water if there are retaining walls. The walls often hold the water too close to the home plus the water can cause damage to the walls.
Helpful links and videos:
Here is the link to the new upgraded map on Toronto's website which will make it easy to see when your deadline is to have your downspouts disconnected.
Link to apply for an exemption: http://www.toronto.ca/water/protecting_quality/mandatory_downspout_disconnection_exemption.htm
Here is a video we put together to assist you in disconnecting your downspouts yourself. It is quite easy to do and will do wonders for the water quality in Toronto and often reduce the chance of leaks in your basement, if done properly. It is about 7 minutes long so may only be interested if you want some technical information. Here is our YouTube link to this video as I can never get it to fit as good into this blog as it should. http://youtu.be/BNJ0mH4_M9M
Here is the link to the how-to guide put out by the city of Toronto.
Here is a link for a not for profit company called Riversides based out of downtown Toronto. They have been instrumental in educating homeowners on the benefits of water conservation and storm water management. You can purchase a rain barrel from them and have it delivered in the downtown. They also have good tips to consider.
Your local hardware stores may have some of the basic size downspouts and colors that you need to do the job yourself. If you need more specialized sizes or colors there is a retail store at Victoria Park and Danforth called Danforth Roofing. We have featured them in a previous blog post:
Homeowners in the GTA have an opportunity to make a big difference in the quality of the Lake Ontario and watersheds that lead to the Lake. This can be accomplished just by draining or saving your rainwater on your property.
This whole downspout disconnect can seem like a real pain but in many instances getting your downspouts out of the old clay drains around your home might save you lots of trouble with leaks into your basement as they crack and shift and often dump water right along your foundation without you knowing! Out of sight and out of mind can really hurt the wallet down the road when you have to excavate the side of your home to water proof or fix mold problems in your damp basement.
Visit our website http://www.eavestough.ca/ or call our office at 416 615 0443. North Shore Eavestroughing are experts at installing new eavestrough and leafguard systems to protect your home, maximize water flow onto your property and keep it out of the Toronto's storm sewers. We have a $575.00 minimum charge for small projects. Sorry but we so not serve south of Eglinton in the downtown core but hope this information will be helpful for you if you live downtown.
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