Technology Spotlight

What is your technology?
RainGrid Stormwater SmartGrid provides proactive, community-scalable, climate adaptation infrastructure for municipal stormwater management and MSD’s. The system delivers cost-effective stormwater management at a significantly lower capital cost, requires a fraction of the time needed for conventional solutions such as sewer retrofitting or retention ponds, and serves as an effective and space-efficient alternative to traditional LID management. 

RainGrid’s distributed infrastructure is comprised of a network of 500L smart cisterns that convert passive, analog rain barrel programs into measurable, reliable, and effective city infrastructure that captures up to 90% of annual roof runoff. Equipped with sophisticated transducer sensors and using real-time weather data algorithms, Stormwater SmartGrid correlates storage to predicted rainfall events on a site-by-site basis and ensures maximum storage capacity for rain events by automatically releasing stored water at least 24 hours before a storm hits. Rainfall data is aggregated and analyzed and can be provided to municipalities for advanced monitoring and improved planning. 

Stormwater SmartGrid is structured on publicly owned or leased infrastructure that is installed and maintained by RainGrid on private properties as a community stormwater utility. The system works with existing municipal infrastructure to shave storm runoff peaks and extend the life of sewer systems. The quantitative precipitation forecasting and cistern release mechanisms coupled with maintenance solutions by RainGrid eliminate the need for end-user operational management. However, the introduction of the online user dashboard web app provides a unique social marketing opportunity to engage homeowners and citizens in climate adaptation and community based stormwater management. 

What are the benefits to implementing your technology?
RainGrid provides cost effective stormwater management that can be installed in days, not years. With just 100 cisterns, RainGrid prevents up to 50,000L of surface runoff from entering the sewer system during a storm, significantly decreasing the risk of urban flooding, sewer backups, CSOs, runoff pollution and extends the life of existing municipal infrastructure. The unique design also offers cost-effective scaling, meaning that as the climate changes the solution can easily and quickly adapt. 

The dispersed infrastructure design provides hundreds of data collection points to gather information on precipitation and microclimates. RainGrid offers the opportunity to further analyze this data and prepare customized reports to better inform municipal planning and decision making. 

Stormwater SmartGrid works to restore environmental flows by discharging stored rainwater for groundwater percolation. A subsidiary benefit is that Smart Cisterns allow property owners to access stored runoff in their cisterns to decrease their demand for potable water for use on lawns and gardens. The unique design also offers cost-effective scaling, meaning that as the climate changes the solution can quickly and easily adapt to new demands.

Finally, Stormwater SmartGrid is an excellent engagement-marketing tool for municipalities and conservation authorities. The User Management platform makes stormwater conservation and reuse easy for homeowners. With just a tap of the web app homeowners can use stored rainwater to water their gardens and take proactive steps towards climate adaptation and potable water efficiencies. The RainGrid smart cistern is also a clear and tangible benefit for any municipality collecting a stormwater utility fee. 

Has the technology been tested, demonstrated or implemented to date?
RainGrid has been a leader in rain barrels and cisterns manufacturing for the past 20 years and is one of North America’s leading municipal rain barrel suppliers. With the demonstrated success of analog rain barrels/cisterns, RainGrid is now moving to a new digital age. 

In 2015 RainGrid launched a pilot in Oakville, Ontario, Canada with the purpose of demonstrating proof of concept. The pilot project proved that RainGrid smart cisterns function as designed, diverting rain from sewers during a rain event and automatically releasing stored water prior to a storm. 

For one downspout draining ¼ of a 1,200 square foot rooftop to a 500L cistern, from June-late October, the RainGrid Smart Cistern diverted 4,129L of rain from becoming stormwater runoff.  As designed, the automated valve coupled with our quantitative precipitation forecast algorithm automatically drained the cistern two-days ahead of predicted rainfall, ensuring maximum storage capacity. 

In 2016, RainGrid worked with George Brown College’s Prototyping Lab to refine its design and include wireless controller technology. The new design streamlined the look of the Smart Cistern and improved user experience. To test wireless functionality at scale, RainGrid partnered with Project Neutral and RiverSides to install 40 Smart Cisterns as a network in Toronto’s Riverdale community, effectively forming the world’s first Stormwater SmartGrid. Since being installed by RainGrid staff, the Smart Cisterns have been centrally controlled by the city and provide robust analytics for monitoring and planning purposes.

What are the next steps needed to advance your technology?
After demonstrated success at the individual lot level, RainGrid is now looking to implement community or city wide. We believe the greatest impacts of Stormwater SmartGrid can only be realized when applied at a wider scale. We are seeking opportunities to implement Stormwater SmartGrid on a community of 500 homes or more in order to better measure the municipal and watershed benefits.

How can LIFT help?
LIFT provides an excellent launching board into the marketplace for technologies such as RainGrid. Through the LIFT Technology Scan process, we are hoping to align ourselves with municipalities ready to reimagine stormwater management. We’d also be very open to a collaborative project with LIFT that better explores the overall watershed impacts of a RainGrid Stormwater SmartGrid solution.