Walking the Talk > Our Pond

Living in Edmonton means living with weather than can change from sun to storm in a few short hours. Have you ever considered what happens after a deluge, or on the first really hot day after a long winter? Planning for these quick changes is called storm water management, and it can have a real impact on the places we call home.

Why It Matters

At its most basic, effective storm water management significantly lowers the risk of a flooded basement. Beyond that, the different ways developers manage a rapid influx of groundwater have different environmental impacts.

Some of potential negative consequences of a sudden rush of water into nearby streams include erosion, downstream flooding, permanent changes in hydrology and the introduction of pollutants picked up from the pavement.

Heron by Larch Park pond

Low Impact Development

The goods news is there are simple, practical techniques developers and builders can use to reduce and absorb runoff before it enters our creeks, rivers and lakes. For example, less asphalt – think smaller driveways, more green spaces.

Leading the Way

There are communities where developers are raising the bar even further. In Larch Park, for example, Melcor’s storm water management pond is so unique it is being studied by U of A biology students. 

Here are some of the FAQs. The respondent is one of the key project partners, Michael Rawson Clark of Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability.

What are you doing that is different?

The Larch Park Storm Water Management Pond will be Edmonton’s first storm water pond built as an ecosystem. The native plant communities in the storm water pond compliment Larch Sanctuary, the neighbouring creek ravines and natural history of Edmonton.

The goals are: (1) to create a conservation resource that is regenerative; and (2) to create natural habitat that nearby residents can enjoy as environmental stewards.

How is the Larch Park Pond different from a conventional turf-grass SWMF?

  • We preserved the native soils from the site.
  • Thick soils retain water, support plant growth and minimize runoff into the pond.
  • It is designed to be diverse – native grassland, forest and wetlands – and includes habitat spaces for birds, frogs, toads, insects and other organisms. It will lower Edmonton’s environmental footprint because mowing, watering, fertilizer, pesticides are unneeded.
  • Deep roots and tall trees will be carbon sinks, helping to reduce Edmonton’s green house gas emissions.
  • The plants are sourced locally to maintain the genetic heritage of Alberta’s plants. Thanks to Bedrock Seed Bank for their support.

How is care of this site different from conventional dry ponds?

  • Right now the site is VERY sensitive.The plants need to be left alone to grow for several years. Please do not let children and dogs play on the site. Resist the temptation to wander in and pick the flowers.
  • University of Alberta students are studying the site to see how it progresses towards its goals. Please do not damage the site and hurt their work.
  • It takes time to beat out the weeds; be patient with our maintenance program.
  • We are looking for resident stewards in Magrath and Larch Park to take up short and long-term care of the site. For more information email info@larchpark.ca

Here are two sources of more information about managing stormwater:

Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership
Water Matters: Green Technologies for Managing Storm-Water