Image credits: Hector Arguello Canals, Unsplash
Small urban water features such as ponds, wetlands, small fountains, and pools can be components of many urban greenspaces. When properly designed, water features can provide a unique amenity for both people and wildlife.
Impacts to hydrology and water quality limit the biodiversity of most urban water features, but these features can still support many wildlife species, and provide an important source of freshwater for all wildlife in the landscape. Even fountains can support invertebrate communities and provide an important resource for birds.
Stationary urban water bodies have the potential to promote disease vectors and toxin-producing algae blooms. Some elements of ornamental water features that create human enjoyment may not support biodiversity. Water features at sites with the potential for the greatest human benefit are likely to have lower habitat and water quality, and may function as ecological traps.
Place water features near walkways or other high use areas to improve human benefits. Design for visual access can provide benefits while limiting human disturbance of plants and wildlife.
Water features with structural complexity, including rocks that reach the surface, floating debris, and islands, provide safe locations for wildlife that spend time on land. These features also create opportunities for people to view wildlife without disturbing them.