Advancing the SDGs – One (rain)Drop at a Time

Guelph is situated on the Grand River sub-basin, part of Ontario’s largest watershed. Much of the region is highly urbanized which has a significant impact on the natural water cycle and supplies of freshwater. 

Across North America, freshwater resources are dwindling. As the availability of freshwater becomes more limited, demand will also increase with population growth. This is especially concerning in Guelph – which is projected to grow by 50% by the year 2051 (source). 

For municipalities, increased water demand also comes with added costs both for treating and pumping water and for the maintenance of aging water infrastructure. Water and wastewater systems are also an underestimated source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for communities. In Ontario 32% of GHG emissions can be attributed to water management (source).

“In North America and in other developed parts of the world, the costs of producing and pumping clean water are rising due to increasing energy costs and changing weather patterns like extreme weather and droughts. These problems are compounded by the costs off-loaded to end users for replacing aging municipal water infrastructure that is reaching capacity.” 

– Tim Neeb, NEEB Engineering Inc.

Reducing Demand on Municipal Water through Rainwater Collection

In partnership with Stormwell and NEEB Engineering Inc., 10C implemented a rainwater collection system as one of many sustainability upgrades made during the renovation of 42 Carden St. As the first commercial installation of Stormwell’s system, 10C serves as a research and development site where system components are tested. 

Stormwell’s rainwater harvesting system offers a low-cost, easily installed solution for collecting rainwater, using it to augment the municipal fresh water supplies. This system is a roof-to-tap solution that collects rainwater and snowmelt from the roof and delivers it to plumbing fixtures. The system removes debris, delivers it to storage tanks and provides an appropriate level of pressurization and post-storage filtration and disinfection. 

Rainwater and snowmelt collected on the roof of 42 Carden St. is filtered, stored in cisterns and used to flush toilets throughout the building. Since 2021, the 10C system has collected and used 141 m3 of rainwater for toilet flushing throughout the building. In 2022, 55% of water used for toilet flushing at 10C was collected from rainwater onsite. 

The rainwater collection system aligns with 10C’s commitment as an environmentally sustainable leader and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) locally. Installation of this system and the partnership with Stormwell as direct benefits to 10C and the community. Collecting rainwater decreases direct costs associated with water use at 10C, rainwater is also much softer than groundwater and reduces use of detergents and soaps. Collecting and storing rainwater offers self-reliance. It is a water supply for emergency situations such as municipal water shut-offs, droughts, or other water shortage events. 

The implementation of place-based rainwater collection also reduces the strain on municipal water systems and aging water infrastructure. This helps decrease costs associated with operations and maintenance of water systems and reduce pumping requirements and associated greenhouse gas emissions. 

In the face of population growth, climate uncertainty and other environmental challenges, rainwater collection can be part of the solution and help to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) locally. 

Thank you to Tim Neeb, Principal from NEEB Engineering Inc., for his collaboration and insight in putting together this impact report.  


Every Drop Counts Reducing the Energy and Climate Footprint of Ontario’s Water Use. (2016/2017). The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. 

High Returns on Better Water Management for the City of Guelph. (2015). Great Lakes Project