Where does the snow go when it melts?

Where does all the snow go when it melts?  Now that we’ve had some snowfall this season, a lot of folks have asked us this question.  Some of the snow will soak into the ground, however the majority will travel along hard surfaces and end up in the storm sewers.

It’s important to remember to clear the storm drains near your home.  This will prevent flooding in the neighbourhood.  Also remember to eliminate polluting substances; pet waste, cigarette butts, litter, motor oil, and salt will all end up in our waterways.

Depending on the neighbourhood you live in, you may be connected to a combined sewer system or a separated sewer system.  A combined sewer system (typical in neighbourhoods built pre-1970) means that stormwater and sewage travel through the same pipe.  When we have heavy rainfall or large snow melts, the system is overwhelmed and we often have sewage overflows into Hamilton Harbour.

If you live in an area with a separated sewer system (typical in neighbourhoods built after 1970) there are different challenges.  Stormwater travels through the pipes and is released into Hamilton Harbour without treatment.  That means that anything ending up in the sewer is transported directly to our waterways.  Think twice before using salt on your driveway or applying pesticides to your lawn, as these will be washed into the sewer the next time it rains.

When it comes to rain, the best motto is “Slow it Down, Soak it Up, Keep it Clean”.

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