Reuse, Return, Reduce, Stop and Speak Out

How can you help improve the water quality in Lake Ontario?

  • Reuse your stormwater by catching the rain that falls on your property. Store water in a rain barrel or in a rainwater harvesting system.
  • Return rain water to the ground to recharge underground aquifers. Plant landscaping like trees and deep rooted plants in areas designed to soak up water such as rain gardens.
  • Reduce water consumption by using water efficient devices in your home. Reduce hard surfaces like walkways and driveways on your property by replacing with porous pavement or interlocking pavers.
  • Stop using harmful chemicals inside and outside the house. Use nature and environmentally friendly products and safely dispose of harmful household hazardous products. Visit the Region of Durham's Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste system or Orange Drop system for more information.
  • Speak out and be aware of the need to change our own habits and encourage neighbors to do the same. Help protect and enhance our most important resource: Lake Ontario.

“Top Ten” Consumer Tips of Water Conservation

Stormwater management initiatives listed below help to improve and maintain the health of the Town of Ajax's watershed and nearshore area of Lake Ontario. These strategic initiatives are priorities set out by Ajax Town Council through the Community Action Plan which calls for “action to improve water quality along Ajax shoreline”.

Yellow Fish Road Program

What is Yellow Fish Road?

Yellow Fish Road is a nation-wide environmental education program designed and managed by Trout Unlimited Canada. The Yellow Fish Road program's goal is to help Canadians understand that storm drains are the doorway to our rivers, lakes and streams. Preventing pollutants from entering our storm drains is critical to protecting and improving water quality and aquatic habitat.

The Town of Ajax, and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority have sponsored the Yellow Fish Road program to schools in Ajax. The Yellow Fish Road program, offered to grades 3-8, educate students and the public about the impacts of pollution entering urban storm drains. In most cities, water entering storm drains goes directly into a local rivers, streams and lakes untreated. Storm drain pollution can harm fish and wildlife, as well as reduce water quality for human use.

Yellow Fish Road volunteers paint “yellow fish” storm drains and distribute fish-shaped brochures to nearby households. These activities remind people to properly dispose of hazardous household chemicals, rather than allowing these to enter curbside drains.

Why the Yellow Fish Road?

In most municipalities, storm drains flow directly into the local waterbody without being treated. Almost anything other than clean rainwater is harmful to fish and other aquatic life. This includes soap used to wash your family car (that is not biodegradable), excess fertilizer on the lawn that washes into the storm drain, dirt and oil from your driveway, and construction materials. These materials have an impact on all aquatic life, including plants, insects, fish and animals, as well as the humans that depend on the local water body.

What is a Drain?

Storm drains are the grates found on the street by the curb. Run-off and rainwater drain into these grates, go through a network of underground tunnels, and usually ends up in the local water body. The water that goes down a storm drain is usually not treated to remove pollutants before it reaches the local water body.

Often, people simply do not realize that storm drains do not go to the sewage treatment plant, or that simple activities, such as allowing soapy water to enter the drains can be harmful to aquatic life. People may also be unaware of alternatives, such as pouring soapy water down their own household drains (which is treated at the sewage treatment plant before entering the river) or using biodegradable cleaning products.

For more information see Trout Unlimited Canada's Yellow Fish Road Program.

How You can Help Newsletters

Stormwater management is a science that is continually evolving, and as it evolves, our understanding of watershed management also grows. Effective management of stormwater is critical to the continued health of our creeks, Lake Ontario, fisheries and terrestrial habitats. The Town of Ajax believes that an improved understanding of watershed by residents will encourage proactive steps of change in habits to improve water quality.

The Newsletters listed below are things that everyone can do to help.

Rain Gardens Stormwater Retrofit

In 2011, The Town of Ajax completed a Master Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) for Stormwater Retrofit Study to investigate stormwater management retrofit opportunities and new stormwater management practices. The EA established a list of recommended water quality improvements for sewer sheds in the Town. These recommendations provide a long term strategy, ensuring the Town continues to be an innovative leader committed to introducing new technologies while updating infrastructure and policies to enhance the environment.

The Rain Garden project was a recommendation from the EA. The location for the first phase is on the south side of Lake Driveway from Harwood Avenue to Anstead Crescent within the boulevard and the Ajax Waterfront park. Construction was completed in late fall of 2014. The rain gardens were monitored for two years following construction to measure their effectiveness at providing water quality treatment. The rain gardens were each designed with different substrate materials to compare their levels of effectiveness. All three rain gardens succeeded at improving the water quality discharging to Lake Ontario. The two rain gardens that were constructed with enhanced additives were also very effective at removing Phosphorus, which contributes to algae growth at the waterfront. The full monitoring report is available here: