Stormwater Quality Retrofit Program
What does stormwater runoff have to do with Fish Creek Provincial Park? You may be surprised to learn that stormwater (rainwater and snowmelt) from 17 communities in Calgary’s South drain into one of six newly completed Stormwater Quality Retrofit Ponds in Fish Creek Provincial Park.
It’s all part of The City of Calgary’s Stormwater Management Strategy, which seeks to reduce the amount of sediment loading in the Bow River and its tributaries such as Fish Creek.
Sediment loading clouds and pollutes our waterways making it difficult for fish to find food. It also reduces fish growth rates and makes them more susceptible to disease. Stormwater also carry excessive nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. These aid weed growth in our waterways that then consume oxygen in the water – literally choking the life out of our waterways.
Ponds play an important role in protecting our environment, and improving water quality. They provide a natural buffer for our waterways. These ponds slow the flow of the stormwater enough to allow sediments to settle to the bottom. Plants and microorganisms in and around the ponds can now break down nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, helping to improve water quality before it enters Fish Creek and the Bow River.
Fish Creek’s Stormwater Quality Retrofit Ponds were constructed from 2008-2011 and include Burnsmead, Acadia, Marshall Springs, Votier’s Flats and Chinook Rotary Nature Park. Each pond is uniquely designed to handle stormwater volumes of a typical rainfall event in Calgary. Together, these ponds reduce sediment loading to both the Bow River and Fish Creek by providing treatment from over 3,400 hectares of existing communities, which had little or no stormwater treatment prior to 2008. Other benefits of the ponds include reducing the amount of direct discharge by encouraging infiltration, diverting flows to channels where possible, and removing some storm outfalls.
Wildlife has also benefited from the retrofit. New wet habitat has been created as a result of the construction of the Fish Creek ponds. For example, the Nesting Wood Duck has recently been seen nesting in the cavities of the Balsam poplar at Heron Colony.
So, the next time you find yourself strolling through Fish Creek Provincial Park with family or friends, be sure to let them know how these ponds are helping protect the Bow River and the wildlife that call these waterways home.