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Word of the Week: Runoff
May 24, 2019 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

High Park retention ponds

Runoff (noun) [RUHN-awf]: The draining away of water (or substances carried in it) from the surface of an area of land, a building, or other structures.

When urban areas experience wet weather conditions, like what is forecasted for tomorrow, the runoff travels through storm sewers underground and eventually ends up at the nearest receiving water body. However, since the amount of impermeable surface areas is so large in a growing city like Toronto, the volume of runoff and flow rates can get really high. This adds increased stress to the underground systems which are supposed to make sure that our city doesn’t flood. In addition, the wash-off from these hard-surface areas contain large amount of contaminants!

To help address these challenges, the retention ponds, and other smaller ponds, were built up in High Park.

These constructed wetlands help relieve some of the pressures on the storm sewers by acting as a sooner outlet for that high volume of runoff and flow rates. They are also home to many aquatic plants that help remove pollutants from water while providing habitat for wildlife. We’ll often see wood ducks, frogs, and even snapping turtles enjoying the water!

On your next High Park visit, be sure to check out the retention ponds. Keep in mind that sometimes, the bacteria in this water can make the surrounding area smell a little eggy!

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