To help achieve a sustainable environment, the City of Thunder Bay has developed a 20-year Stormwater Management Plan. The plan focuses on the stormwater system, and how changes in the environment, land use, and climate affect it. The Plan examines opportunities to assess and improve current infrastructure.

Explore the information below to learn more about what stormwater is and why it is an issue, read our Stormwater Management Plan, learn about the Stormwater Financing Study, and find out what you can do at home.    

About stormwater: what is it and why is it an issue?

What is stormwater?

Rain and melted snow flow over land into storm drains, streams, rivers, and lakes.

In natural landscapes, stormwater is soaked up like a sponge, and goes on to nourishes plants and slowly replenish streams, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers.

In more urban areas, impervious or hard surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and rooftops prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs quickly into storm drains and sewer systems, and then to our lakes and rivers.

Hard urban surface areas thus create more stormwater runoff, which carries more pollutants such as oil, grit, and garbage into our lakes and rivers.

Why is stormwater an issue?

Stormwater that does not soak into the ground flows into rivers, ponds and lakes. The runoff can contain chemicals, sediment, and trash.

It is important to monitor stormwater runoff - first, to track how much and how often which can result in flooding, and second, to track the amount of contaminants the water carries.

The Stormwater Management Plan is intended to help lower the danger of runoff, and protect our roads and structures, with a fully functional storm sewer system.

Our Stormwater Management Plan

Open new window to view Stormwater Management PlanThe Stormwater Management Plan spans a 20-year period. It protects the quality and health of water resources in Thunder Bay.

The Plan was created with the guidance of Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc., as well as input from community groups and residents.

The City of Thunder Bay Strategic Plan (2011-2014) supported the development of the plan.

Thunder Bay City Council approved the Stormwater Management Plan in principle on June 13, 2016.

View (PDF) the components of the Stormwater Management Plan:

Community involvement - what you can do at home

Good planning and better decisions involve input from many sources, including the residents of our community. Thank you to all those who have been involved and provided input. Your involvement will help us meet the needs of the current and future stormwater demand.

Here are other ways you can get involved and do your part at home:

  • Plant a rain garden, with the help of a Rain Garden Rebate
  • Install a rain barrel or two
  • Dispose of hazardous waste at the City's Household Hazardous Waste Depot
  • Do not wash automotive fluids into the storm sewer
  • Pick up after your pets
  • Clean up litter
  • Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers

 Adopt-a-catch basin

Adopt-a-catch basin in your neighbourhood! By doing this you can not only help keep our aquatic ecosystems clear of leaves, trash, and other toxic debris, but protect your neighbourhood from excess stormwater flooding during storm seasons. Adopting a storm drain is easy and a great opportunity to become environmental stewards. 


Adopting a catch basin is easy!

1.  Find a catch basin in our NEW Adopt-a-catch basin interactive map!

  • Zoom in to choose a storm drain(s) near your home or school.
  • Click on the catch basin you wish to adopt and click the 'Adopt Catch Basin' button.
  • Fill out your information.
  • You will receive an email with program guidelines to confirm you have adopted a storm drain.

2. Watch the Adopt a storm drain Ecotip from EcoSuperior.

3. Sign up for the EarthCare Newsletter to receive updates on this program, community events, information and opportunities that improve or promote the sustainability and livability of Thunder Bay

4. Supplies you may require to clean out your adopted catch basin:

  • ​Small shovel
  • Gloves
  • Garbage bags 

5. Safety Tips and Guidelines: 

  • Only those catch basins that are a safe distance from busy roads are available for adoption. Any catch basin not appearing in the map cannot be safely adopted and have not been made available. Catch basins on Collector and Arterial Roads, such as Arthur Street or Red River Road, have not been included and are not available for adoption. 
  • Use caution and be aware of traffic in the area when cleaning a catch basin.
  • Do not attempt to remove the grate from the catch basin. If you cannot clean the catch basin yourself, contact City of Thunder Bay Dispatch at 625-2195.
  • The best time to monitor and clean a catch basin is before heavy rain or snow, and in the fall when trees are shedding their leaves.
  • To clean a catch basin, you will need gloves, a rake, shovel and garbage bag. Stand on the curb and use a rake or shovel to remove debris from the catch basin. Place the debris in a garbage bag and dispose of it with your regular garbage. 

6. The catch basin(s) will be adopted for a period of one year. You can change or cancel your adoption at any time by viewing your profile and clicking the Unadopt catch basin link at the right of the page.


See video example below of how easy it to maintain a catch basin.




Disclaimer: By adopting a catch basin, you agree to release the City of Thunder Bay from any claims for damage to persons or property resulting from the removal of debris from catch basins.

More information

See our Discounts and Rebates webpage

See our Flood Prevention webpage

See our Neighbourhood Master Stormwater Drainage Study "Final Report" Hatch MacDonald 


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