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2013 Water Category ― Co-winner 2

City of Waterloo, Ontario

GreenLab RIM Park ― Rainwater Harvesting and Reuse System

Population: 553,000
Project duration: 2010–2011
Total project value: $4,000,000

The City of Waterloo has developed a new sports facility with a rainwater system that uses runoff from two playing fields with artificial turf to irrigate four fields with natural turf. Smart sensors control irrigation, and help staff assess field conditions, decide on closures and alert the public quickly. The system diverts runoff from the city's sewers, reduces the use of potable water for irrigation, and is expected to reduce municipal water consumption by up to 10 million litres annually.

The development includes a central pavilion that serves as a gathering place for the 1.3 million people that visit the park every year. The pavilion includes a green roof, educational signage and a web-based educational module for Grades 7 and 8. The new park showcases the city's commitment to sustainable infrastructure projects and is helping to educate residents about the importance of water conservation.





  • Up to 10 million litres of potable water saved per year to irrigate natural turf fields
  • Water diverted from sewers
  • Over-or under-watering avoided through use of sensors
  • Lower staff and operating costs associated with monitoring field conditions (smart sensors)
  • Better quality sport fields
  • Smart field sensors help staff keep the public informed on field conditions


  • The Waterloo Minor Soccer Club contributed $950,000 to the project. It was a challenge to maintain members' enthusiasm for aspects of the project — such as the rainwater harvesting — that didn't contribute directly to soccer. The project steering committee included representatives from the soccer club, who were part of an ongoing dialogue about the project.
  • Rainwater harvesting systems need to be backed up by other water sources. This system was designed to supply at least 50 per cent of the water the park needed for irrigation. But, during the drought in 2012, it delivered only 19 per cent. The system was built to automatically switch to municipal water when necessary.

Lessons learned

  • Take the risk to do something unique that demonstrates community leadership — it's worth it.
  • Leave adequate time to calculate return on investment (ROI). The project team believes that the city will have to collect data for about five years before it can predict the project's payback period.

Partners and collaboration


Page Updated: 27/04/2018