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Don’t use retention ponds for winter recreation activities

Ice conditions can change quickly and without warning

December 1, 2020

Danger, thin ice sign

No matter how cold it is outside, or what the ice looks like, it’s never safe to use retention ponds for winter recreation activities.

Despite the signs warning of the dangers of thin ice posted at retention ponds, we receive reports of people going out onto the ice and even building recreational rinks on retention ponds each year.

 “Walking or skating on retention ponds isn’t safe at any time,” said Susan Lambert, Operations Engineer with our Wastewater Collections.

During the winter, water from melting snow or nearby water main breaks continues to flow into the ponds, and is often mixed with street salts that can cause the ice to melt and thin quickly.

“The water enters the pond underneath the ice, resulting in a thinning of the ice that can't be seen from the surface,” added Lambert.

Hockey net and chairs on a frozen retention pond
Recreational rinks on retention ponds like this are a serious safety hazard. Retention ponds should never be used for winter recreation activities.

Parents and teachers should remind children to stay off the ice and find other ways to play outside safely this winter.

If you see someone in distress on a retention pond or any other frozen body of water, call 911.


Emergency and Safety Water and Waste

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