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Stormwater quality retrofit - FAQ

What are the goals of the Stormwater Management Strategy?

Some of the goals of the Stormwater Management Strategy include the following:

  • Protect public and property from flooding and erosion
  • Protect watershed health
  • Reduce sediment going into the Bow River below the 2005 level by 2015
  • Control sediment by focusing on retrofits in developed areas
  • Develop sustainable stormwater management practices for both new and developed areas

Learn more about the Stormwater Quality Retrofit program.

What are Total Suspended Solids?

Total Suspended Solids is a water quality measurement that calculates the amount of solid materials like sediment, debris and pollutants – both organic and inorganic – that are suspended in both stormwater and wastewater. 

Why is reducing suspended solids important?

For people
The Bow and Elbow rivers are the source of drinking water for many Albertans, including Calgarians. It is important to ensure that high quality drinking water is available for future generations. 

For plants and wildlife
It's equally important to the wildlife that call these waterways home. The Bow River is one of the top trophy trout streams in the world. Suspended solids pollute the water, which can adversely affect fish health, reproduction and habitat, as well as the production of plants and bugs. This reduces the amount of food available to aquatic life overall.  These stressors can reduce fish growth rates and makes them more susceptible to disease.

What is a wet pond?

Wet ponds are areas used to store stormwater runoff during rainfall or snowmelt events. They provide a retention area in order to slow the water down long enough to promote settlement of pollutants from this storm water runoff.

The vegetation within and around the wet pond can also support the removal of harmful pollutants or nutrients from the stormwater. Wet ponds provide runoff control and enhance the quality of the stormwater being released into our rivers and lakes.

There are currently 158 wet ponds within existing and new communities that help to prevent flooding and better protect the quality of water in our rivers.

What pollutants are carried in rainwater?

Dirt, oil, gasoline, gravel, salt, garbage, animal droppings and chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides can be washed away into the storm drains during rainfall events. Ultimately, stormwater, and the pollutants within it, enters our rivers through outfalls – the big drains you see along the riverbanks. 

Do wet ponds dry out in the summer?

Although evaporation cannot be prevented, ponds are typically designed with normal water depths of up to 3 m and dry weather base flow is expected to help sustain the normal water level within a pond.

How do wet ponds prevent mosquitoes?

Standing water that remains for more than one week can become stagnant and is preferred by mosquito larvae. The ponds will normally have a continual base flow (i.e., small continuous flow of water) that will provide movement of the water through the ponds.

Mosquitoes also prefer warm shallow water. The ponds will be designed to have a normal depth of up to 3 m (> 10 feet). Predatory species such as dragonflies and frogs typically establish themselves in wet ponds and will also assist in the control of mosquito populations.

Other physical, mechanical and chemical control measures can also be taken by The City to mitigate mosquito populations and minimize the risk to human health and the environment. Animal and mosquito issues are handled through The City's Integrated Pest Management.

How will The City control beavers?

The City of Calgary IPM Plan provides measures for dealing with beaver habitats in parks, such as placing metal wiring around the tree trunks to prevent them from being cut down will be considered if a problem is identified. Should residents notice beaver activity occurring in the pond, they should report it to City of Calgary 3-1-1.

How do you ensure public safety?

The wet ponds are designed with the safety of citizens as a high priority. We adhere to municipal and provincial safety regulations to ensure that the members of the community adjacent to wet ponds or in parks where wet ponds exist are aware of the potential hazards they present.

These regulations require that signage is posted around wet ponds identifying the potential dangers as a reminder to all community members to be mindful when enjoying the beauty of the ponds.

Can my dog use the wet ponds?

If the stormwater pond falls within an existing off-leash area or park, then off-leash dogs are allowed to access the wet pond. For all other parks or areas, off-leash access is not allowed.

In general, we do caution against anyone or their pets coming into contact with the water in any wet pond for safety and water quality concerns.

Stay clear when it rains: We urge you to stay away from wet ponds during and after rainfall due to the danger of rapid changes in the water levels.