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Storm Ponds

Alert: Goldfish have been spotted in local storm ponds. Learn more >>

What is a Storm Pond?

The City of Lethbridge operates more than 30 Storm Ponds located throughout the City. These storm water reservoirs' primary function is to collect and store excess storm water to prevent flooding. Storm ponds are designed with inlets for storm water to enter during high rainfall events and outlets to slowly release excess water afterwards. Some ponds have irrigation make up water to keep them filled, because water from the pond is used to irrigate the park during the summer months. These “lakes” found in your neighbourhood are not constructed to be a public recreational facility.
REMINDER: Water levels and water quality in storm ponds is highly variable and unpredictable! For your health and safety, NO CONTACT  is permitted for humans or pets with the storm ponds! Please - no swimming, wading, skating or boating! ​ (unless otherwise designated)

Why are Storm Ponds so Important?

  • They hold excess rainfall during large melt and storm events to prevent flooding of neighbourhoods and basements.
  • Ponds help to settle out sediments and other contaminants before being released into the Oldman River.
  • The naturalized edges of the ponds create habitat for wildlife, birds and insects.

Why does the water in the Storm Pond not always look so good?

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers results in excess nutrients causing algal blooms and undesirable weed growth.
  • Excess algae growth reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water making it difficult for aquatic species to live and also intensifies water odour.
  • Bacteria from pet waste along with other contaminants are health hazards to humans and pets. This is why you must keep out of the ponds!

How you can help improve the water that enters into Storm Ponds?

Living near a Storm Pond is like living in a higher “environmental risk zone” than the rest of your neighbours.  What you do in your back yard whether it be using too much herbicide on your grass or a gasoline spill from your lawnmower, there is an increased risk these substances can find their way into the pond.
There are several things you can do to help protect the water quality that enters into storm ponds:
 Lawn and Yard Care
  •  “Grass-cycle” – leave grass clippings on your lawn! They will disappear in a few days and increases your soils fertility by up to 50%
  •  “Mow it high and let it lie” – leave your grass at least 8 cm long (this limits weed growth, retains moisture and encourages root growth)
  • Remove unwanted plants using tools, not herbicides!
  • Avoid applying herbicides over your entire lawn, spot treat instead.
  • Limit watering in the spring to encourage root growth and drought-tolerant plants
  • Water lawn in the early morning and avoid over watering.
  • When using a sprinkler system, water only as needed and invest in a timer to prevent over watering.
  • Use rain barrels to catch precipitation runoff – use to water your garden!
  • Drain downspouts on your lawn/landscaping not onto roads, driveways, or alleys.
  • Use mulch (i.e. straw, shredded leaves or newspaper) to conserve water.
  • Use compost as an alternative to chemical fertilizer.
  • Mix plants and utilize companion plants to keep bugs away.
  • Encourage insect-eating birds in your yard by creating bird-friendly habitats.
  • Use soap-based products which will kill bugs without harming you or the plants.
Vehicles and Equipment
  • Keep your vehicles maintained.
  • Use adsorbent material to soak up leaks of oil and other vehicle fluids.
  • When adding oil or fuel to vehicle or equipment like a mower, work over a hard surface like concrete and always use a funnel to limit spills.
  • Use less toxic propylene glycol-based antifreeze.
  • Dispose of fluids at designated recycling facilities.
  • Wash your vehicle in a car wash, where water is recycled.

                                 GET INVOLVED in GUTTER BUDDY!                               
Gutter Buddy is a program that encourages residents to keep their storm drains and gutters free of debris. Nominate yourself or someone else to The Lethbridge Green List and be recognized for being a Gutter Buddy.           

 Sidewalks and Driveways
  • Sweep your sidewalk and driveway onto your grass or into flower beds rather than washing down the storm drain.
  • Don’t sweep leaves, grass or other debris into the drain; compost or bag them.
  • Use environment-friendly deicers for icy surfaces.
Hot Tubs and Pool Water
  • Consider using bromine instead of chlorine to treat pool water, especially hot tubs.
  • Check with supplier about ultraviolet and ozone treatments.
  • Treat hot tub or pool water with a neutralizing product or allow the water to neutralize for several days by removing chemicals (pH should be between 5.5 and 11.0)
  • Discharge of water on your lawn or in flower beds or into the sanitary sewer.
Pet Waste
  • Clean up after your pet to avoid contaminating runoff with bacterial pathogens found in their fecal droppings.
  • Flush pet wastes down the toilet.
  • Be a responsible pet owner and…”Scoop the Poop!” Use doggie bag dispensers to dispose of your pets waste into the garbage.
Paints, Thinners, and Wood Preservatives
  •  Dispose of toxic products at collection depots, not your regular household waste. NEVER POUR DOWN YOUR DRAIN, ON YOUR LAWN OR DOWN STORM DRAINS.

What's Happening at the Storm Ponds?

Check out the educational storm pond signs in your neighbourhood!

Environmentally friendly ways we are improving water quality:

  • Diffuser Aerators
  • Ultrasonic Algae Control Devices
  • Floating Island Wetland Treatments
  • Cattail Harvesting
For more information contact:
Jackie Cardinal - Parks Natural Resource Coordinator

 Did you know?

The yellow fish you see painted on the sidewalk beside storm drains are painted by the Yellow Fish Road Program. The yellow fish symbol reminds us that what we wash into the streets ends up in storm ponds and in the Oldman River untreated.  Find out how you can get involved in Yellow Fish Road!
Some information on this page was  obtained with permission from Nature Alberta in the document Living Near Urban Lakes: Your Guide to Everyday Living in Urban Lake Communities by Sarah Weaver Kipp. This resource is available for purchase at