Fire Chief Mike Vilneff/Town FB page image

Municipality Prohibits the Recreational Use of Stormwater Management Ponds 

The Town of Cobourg is advising residents that the six stormwater management ponds located in Cobourg are prohibited for recreational activity at any time of the year due to their unstable and potentially dangerous conditions.

“Although they may look like tranquil and inviting bodies of water there’s a lot happening below the surface of stormwater management ponds,” said Fire Chief Mike Vilneff for the Town of Cobourg. “Due to their unstable conditions, residents are prohibited from using these ponds for any type of recreational activity during the year.” 

Across the Town of Cobourg, there are six stormwater management ponds that play an important role. These ponds are engineered to collect surface water runoff and provide treatment of pollutants to keep our watersheds healthy and alleviate flooding by storing and slowly releasing stormwater. 

While their shiny and slippery surface during the winter may look appealing for ice skating, these ponds can be very dangerous. When stormwater ponds freeze over, the thickness of the ice becomes unpredictable making for dangerous conditions as runoff and drainage water flows through the ponds yearly. Water can intermittently enter the pond, move through the pond and spill out of the pond at any time. This water can also be warm and turbulent which makes ice melt faster. Even if water has frozen all the way to the bottom of a shallow section, channels of water can still cut through it. “The danger isn’t just thin ice, but also the fact that the water level below the ice surface can change drastically with the amount of inflow and outflow, which can lead to the entire ice surface collapsing,” said Laurie Wills, Director of Public Works for the Town of Cobourg. “Another contributing factor is road salt and depending on how much is applied to nearby roads and how much runs off into ponds, it can also speed up thawing.” 

Stormwater ponds should not be used for any recreational activity at any time of the year. Exercise caution around frozen ponds and bodies of water and never skate or walk on them. Within the next few weeks signage will be installed around all stormwater ponds prohibiting recreational activity. 

The Town of Cobourg would like to remind residents that while small gatherings of five people are permitted outdoors, the Stay-At-Home Order mandates that Ontario residents remain at home at all times with the exception of essential outings such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. The enhanced public health and workplace safety measures are anticipated to be in place until at least February 9, 2021. 

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