Stormwater Management and Safety
Did you know that the “ponds” in Spruce Grove neighbourhoods are facilities that play an important role when it comes to our water quality?
In undeveloped natural areas, stormwater is absorbed by plants and soil, or finds its way back to ponds and streams. However, in urban centres, hard surfaces like sidewalks, paved areas and rooftops prevent stormwater from soaking into the ground naturally.
What may look like a community pond is catching the rain and snow melt as well as contaminants such as oils and salts that come through the city’s catch basins and manholes and flows through our storm sewer. The Stormwater Management Facility (SWMF) treats the water and it flows back out to the North Saskatchewan River.
It is important that the water that is released back into the river meets specific quality standards so the City has a robust plan for stormwater management.
Stormwater management facilities, along with the natural habitat surrounding them, provide many benefits:
- Reduces risk of flooding and property damage
- Protects water quality by filtering the water and removing sediment and other materials
- Provides a habitat for wildlife
- Increases biodiversity
The naturalization of stormwater management facilities means that a designated area surrounding the stormwater facility is returned to its natural state. This includes the growth of wetland plants, shrubs, trees and grasses that are not landscaped or mowed. Having established vegetation is essential to ensuring the stormwater facility works properly to support the water supply and ecosystem.
During the summer months, algae may appear on the surface of these facilities due to several factors including runoff from nearby properties containing phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizers, pet and yard waste (clippings) combined with hot weather. It is worth noting that algae plays a special role in the biological treatment process of the water and some algae in a stormwater management facility is beneficial. The City of Spruce Grove does have a program that monitors, maintains and manages the water in SWMFs to ensure it is safe for discharge into the North Saskatchewan River water shed.
For your safety, do not use the stormwater management facilities for recreational purposes. They are best to be enjoyed from a distance.
Due to the constant flow of water and unpredictable water levels, these ponds are not safe. This includes skating or walking on the ice in the winter, and swimming, wading and boating in the summer.
In the winter, ice forms in unstable conditions and is often very thin. Skating or walking on the ice is strictly prohibited at all times.
Instead, residents can enjoy, and safely use, one of Spruce Grove's outdoor ice surfaces. Check if the ice surfaces are open or closed at www.sprucegrove.org/ice.
As well, accessing or allowing your pets to access a stormwater management facility is a violation of the Open Space Bylaw and can result in a fine. For more information on what activities are prohibited in and on a stormwater management facility see the Open Space Bylaw (section 11.4 and 11.5).