The benefits of an urban wetland

While Magic Erasers are pretty impressive – their magic is nothing compared to the amazing properties of a healthy wetland – even the smallest one. Like the Magic Eraser, wetlands are sponge-like: they soak up run-off water and retain substances such as nitrogen, phosphorous and other chemicals that can be harmful in excess amounts — acting as a filter for the water that will eventually end up in our lakes and streams.

More frequent cycling between droughts and floods is symptomatic of climate change. The sponge-like property of a wetland acts as a natural defence against these weather extremes by absorbing large amounts of water during heavy rainfalls and spring runoff and then releasing it slowly during the dry season. Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface-water runoff from pavement and buildings.

The AWA’s current project – the Okanagan Street Wetland Project – concerns one such small urban wetland (1 acre) in the middle of Armstrong. Conserving this wetland is important for all of the above-mentioned reasons and, in addition to safeguarding the habitats of a diverse mix of animal species, its location makes it ideal for another important function – education. It is within walking distance of all 4 of Armstrong’s schools and easily accessible to anyone from the downtown core.

Once completed, our project will have created a small open water area among the cattails with a boardwalk, viewing platform and informational signage identifying wetland features and the crucial role that wetlands play in our environment – thereby, hopefully, and encouraging ongoing support for the conservation of these important ecosystems. **

“The Okanagan and Similkameen regions have lost about 90% of their low elevation wetlands since the 1800s”

Okanagan Basin Water Board. Kelowna Capital News, Feb.6, 2020