Two innovative Torontonians — an environmentalist and an engineer — want to revolutionize the way North American cities approach stormwater management by giving rain barrels intelligence.
The two men own RainGrid Inc., a high-tech rain barrel system with wireless capability to connect to a computer server and an entire network of other “smart” rain barrels.
The key to the concept of the rain barrel network is that it can be controlled en masse. That means when it starts raining, the barrels can be triggered to empty, creating space for more water, and avoiding flash or roadway floods.
Started by environmentalist Kevin Mercer and engineer Stephen Braun, RainGrid Inc. is designed to give municipalities a simple new tool in the face of increased flooding from climate change. They also recognize the fact that stormwater damage is one of the largest sources of insurance claims in Canada.
While RainGrid Inc. already has significant contracts for its products in Washington, D.C., Mercer and Braun are looking to get Canadian municipalities on board, too, especially when a rain barrel system would cost significantly less than expanding water systems at a time when many municipalities are considering raising fees or taxes for stormwater management.
Mercer is co-founder of the not-for-profit organization RiverSides, which fights runoff.