Talking trash on drained, neighbourhood storm pond

By DAWN BOOTH, Managing Editor of Connect Weekly

***UPDATE: The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has issued a statement on Saturday, August 22, 2015 stating: Testing has proven the water in the Brett Storm pond to be safe and in compliance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality. Signs have been removed.***

Recyclable items litter the banks of the Brett Storm pond on August 16, 2015. A notice sign warns “high levels of bacteria are present.” PHOTO: Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

Recyclable items litter the banks of the Brett Storm pond on August 16, 2015. A notice sign warns “high levels of bacteria are present.” PHOTO: Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

It seems the “out of sight, out of mind” trend was surfaced from our backcountry trails and roadsides, directly into the bottom of a neighbourhood pond.

On July 27, 2015, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo issued an update on the Timberlea Sewer Upgrades Construction Project stating: “The Brett Storm pond has been drained to assist with the current construction. The pond will sequentially be drained after rainfall events until construction is complete on Brett Drive. After construction is complete on Brett Drive, the pond will no longer be drained after rainfall events, and will naturally fill back to normal water level.”

I’ve been raising awareness on Fort McMurray’s illegal dumping issue shortly after I moved to our community in September 2007. As president of the Fort McMurray Environment Committee, Tower Road and our local trails surrounding the Boreal Forest are often on my mind.

Due to the commitments of the committee’s dedicated members and the support from concerned residents, we are able to host annual clean-ups around the city and have successfully removed some of the mess that others have carelessly – and intentionally – left behind.

Due to the commitments of the committee’s dedicated members and the support from concerned residents, we are able to host annual clean-ups around the city and have successfully removed some of the mess that others have carelessly – and intentionally – left behind.

So, you can understand my frustration when I take my children to a neighbourhood park to only see remnants of garbage; including bicycles, rubber tires, tin cans and plastic bottles, stuck in the mud at the bottom of a drained pond.

Some could argue that the trash “got away from them by nature” – wind blowing around the garbage from backyards, picking it up and bringing it down to the pond below… possibly… maybe. Maybe the coffee cups and water bottles were forgotten in the winter, after locals enjoyed an evening of recreational ice skating; which had later fallen into the pond, after it melted. It’s definitely a lot harder to determine the actual reason why there’s garbage in the pond.

I guess, like Tower Road, the pond will be something else to keep an eye on. And now, I can’t help to question what lies below the other city storm water ponds.

On Tower Road, it’s no-brainer because how could one forget several garbage bags of household waste along the roadside? One wouldn’t just “forget” to pick up their gun shells, after spending time target practicing, would they?
I guess, like Tower Road, the pond will be something else to keep an eye on. And now, I can’t help to question what lies below the other city storm water ponds.

If I could, I would take this matter into my own hands and work with our environment committee to plan a clean-up, or ask neighbourhood friends to come out and help.

However, the broken “Notice” signage – only visible with a pair of binoculars or zoom-in camera – states: “Due to construction activities, high levels of bacteria are present with this storm pond. Prevent from drinking and coming in contact with pond activity.”

Though, there is a the standard “Danger: Storm Pond” sign present at the entrance of the park area. What worries me (after spotting this broken notice sign through my camera lens) is that there are dozens of dried up foot prints on the banks of the pond.

If you live in the neighbourhood surrounding the Brett Storm pond, please stay away from it.

I have contacted the appropriate officials to request this “Notice” sign is completely visible and well secured, and more signs are placed, surrounding the pond. If you see anyone littering or illegal dumping, contact the RCMP/Bylaw Complaints Line by calling 780-788-4200.

Stay CONNECTed!

– Connect Weekly –