Retention pond safety

There are a number of reasons why residents should restrict their use of retention ponds.

The runoff that flows into retention ponds can contain a number of different pollutants, like automotive oil, street salts, animal waste, fertilizers and pesticides. These pollutants and the naturally occurring algae and bacteria in the pond water can cause irritation and illness.


During the summer months, the City of Winnipeg routinely inspects retention ponds to monitor water levels and vegetation growth. Retention ponds are not intended to be used for any recreation activities where your body is in contact with the water, such as swimming, windsurfing and water skiing. Motorized boats in retention ponds are not allowed, but kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are permitted.

Given the various pollutants that can be found in retention pond water, it should also not be used to water your lawn or garden.

For your safety, do not:

  • Drink or swim in the water
  • Eat the fish found in the pond
  • Allow your pets to drink or swim in the water
  • Water your lawn or garden with retention pond water

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


Using retention ponds in the winter for recreational activities can be dangerous, as ice conditions can change quickly and without warning. The water draining from nearby water main breaks, rain or snowmelt can enter the retention ponds and are often mixed with street salts that cause the ice to melt. The water enters the pond underneath the ice, resulting in a thinning of the ice that can’t be seen from the surface.

If you are interested in skating outdoors in the winter, you may visit one of the outdoor rinks operated by the City.

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