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Water Pollution

Storm drain with yellow fish marker.

In urban environments, storm drains collect water runoff from roads, parking lots and industrial developments. This water flows directly into Surrey streams untreated. It often contains harmful contaminants that can damage fish and their habitats. The yellow fish you see painted by these storm drains reminds us that we put only rain down the storm drain.

Report a Water Pollution Problem

If you witness a spill, chemicals being washed into a stormwater drain, or a contaminated stream, contact the City of Surrey Engineering Department at 604-591-4152 or report a non-emergency problem online. You can also call the Provincial Emergency Program at 1-800-663-3456 or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at 604-666-3500.

Read more in Surrey's Stormwater Drainage Regulation and Charges Bylaw.

Types of Water Pollution

There are 2 types of pollution to Surrey's waterways:

  • Point source is from a single identifiable source like a factory, waste water treatment plant or some other facility. Most of the current federal, provincial and municipal regulations are regarding these types of pollution sources.
  • Non-point source pollution is from multiple or unidentifiable sources. This includes stormwater runoff from roadways, parking lots, lawns and agricultural fields. This runoff can contain oils, soap, animal or human waste, sediment and fertilizers. Foreign substances like cleaning products, automotive fluids, fertilizers, paints, solvents, pool and hot tub water, and even loose soil can kill fish, insect and plant life when dumped into these drains.

Preventing Water Pollution at Home

There are two separate sewer systems in Surrey – a sanitary system and a storm system.

The storm system carries stormwater runoff, or rainwater, from roads and gutters. Because the contents of storm drains are not treated before it enters Surrey’s stream, we need to keep storm drains clear of contaminants. During rainstorms, water running off properties can carry with it household chemicals and organic wastes like dirt, grass clippings and leaf litter that can pollute local streams and wildlife habitats.

The sanitary system carries wastes and water from within buildings and homes such as sinks, showers, toilets, basement floor drains and washing machines. This wastewater is transported to facilities where it is treated before the water is released back to the environment.

General Tips

  • Pick up pet waste
  • Don't litter
  • Dispose of any chemicals or paints properly
  • If you have an on-site septic system, be sure to maintain it frequently

Lawn and Garden

  • Instead of using chemicals to kill weeds consider hand-pulling or using a non-toxic method
  • Only use bark mulch in areas where there isn’t a likelihood of stormwater runoff because it can leach toxins into rainwater
  • Direct roof downspouts away from drain tiles; allow the water to slowly filter to the ground on a gravel splashpad
  • Limit your use of fertilizer
  • If you have a pool or hot tub that you need to drain, direct the water slowly into the ground and away from storm drains
  • While landscaping, be sure to sweep up any loose soil or organic litter that could be washed into a storm drain

Car and Driveway Care

  • Wash cars on the grass with environmentally friendly detergent or at commercial carwashes where the water is collected
  • Fix fluid leaks from your car
  • Never dispose of automotive fluids down the storm drain.
  • Sweep driveways instead of hosing them down because using water to wash down the driveway stirs up pollutants and litter that can be carried to the storm drain
  • If you are constructing your driveway, consider using porous asphalt or paving stones because this allows water to seep through it. If you will be using concrete or aggregate, prevent all concrete wash water from entering the storm drain because it is very toxic to aquatic life.

Preventing Water Pollution at Your Business

See Surrey's brochures on best management practices for industries that are the common causes of point or non-point source pollution. Pass them on to local businesses that you encounter to spread the word about stream protection.

For more information on preventing water pollution, review regulations and legislation in the Federal Fisheries Act, Provincial Water Act, and Provincial Environmental Management Act.

For more information about Surrey’s sewer systems and pollution prevention, call 604-591-4383 or email environment@surrey.ca.