Water Quality

Water quality is an issue that concerns all of us, especially those of us who live and play along the shoreline. It is crucial that we maintain the highest water quality for many reasons including our own health, the environment, for recreation, and simply for its natural beauty.

  1. Why is it important to manage drainage on my property?
  2. How can I protect water quality during construction?

1. There are several reasons to manage drainage on your shoreline property:

  • To protect your shoreline from extra erosive forces caused by surface runoff and groundwater drainage, and prevent any shoreline erosion problems from worsening.
  • To save soil on your property from being eroded by runoff.
  • To reduce the flow of water carrying pollutants like soil particles, fertilizers, chemicals and road runoff into lakes, streams, ponds, estuaries and coastal waters.
  • To manage drainage, follow the 4 D’s of runoff control:
    DECREASE the amount of runoff.
    DETAIN water to decrease the downstream velocity.
    DIVERT the runoff to less erodible areas.
    DISSIPATE the runoff: spread it out, to encourage sheet runoff.


2. To protect water quality during construction, you will need a two fold strategy. First, keep clean water clean (ie. by stopping it from running through your construction site) and second, keep any water that does become dirty from entering clean water (for example, flowing downhill straight towards the nearest waterbody).

  • Place silt fencing downhill of your building site. This fine material allows water to escape while catching soil particles.
  • Use temporary hay bale dyking uphill of your building site. Hay bales can be used to direct runoff while catching soil.
  • Near water bodies, use only clean fill which is free of debris, such as rock, sand or gravel.
  • Cover fill piles (eg to be used for backfilling the basement foundation) with tarps. Uncovered fill will erode away, making a mess of your site and destroying wildlife habitat. Avoid extended use of plastic and tarps, however, as they also will cause increased runoff which can lead to erosion elsewhere.
  • Check your site after major rainfalls and correct any erosion problems. If possible, go on site during a storm and observe what is happening to runoff.
  • Make sure your equipment is in good working order, to avoid leaks of fuel, oil, etc. which could contaminate surface water. Monitor it regularly.

Protect bare ground


  • It is critical to protect exposed soil from wind, rain and other sources of soil erosion.
  • Leave ground covered until it really must be uncovered.
  • Promptly cover soil that has been exposed.
  • Keep as much of the construction site covered at any one time as possible; minimize disturbance of ground cover like shrubs or grasses to avoid exposing soil and causing erosion or potential slope failure.
  • Cover bare ground with mulch or burlap to limit erosion. Hold mulch down with nylon netting. If possible, mulch bare ground at the end of every day.
  • Use hay or straw as a mulch to cover disturbed areas after reseeding. A good rule of thumb is one 50 pound bale per 500 square feet / 45 square metres.