What is it?
While beaver ponds can provide important water capture and storage infrastructure, they can also cause damaging floods. Pond Levellers are used to mitigate these effects by creating a silent, permanent ‘leak’ through the beaver dam, thereby regulating the water level. Because intake pipes are located upstream and under water, beavers will not react to plug the leak, as they only respond to leaks that are noisy or create a flowing sensation. The height of the pipe in the dam controls the pond level; water flows through the pipe until the water level drops below the peak of the pipe.
How can municipalities use it?
Municipalities can use Pond Leveller technology to mitigate flooding caused by beaver dams, while allowing beavers to remain the in area. Pond Levellers can be a tool for municipal staff to implement in park and open space management, as well as in transportation maintenance.
What are the advantages?
The advantages of Pond Levellers include:
Cost effective and low maintenance
Eliminates the need for costly repeat beaver dam removal, and repeat trapping/lethal removal of beavers
Humane solution to beaver management
Allows beavers to stay on site, which helps to maintain biodiversity and provides numerous watershed benefits such as habitat creation, sediment and pollutant capture, and increased water storage
Reduces flooding caused by beaver dams
They do not need to be sized to handle big storm events like culverts do, as water will flow over the top of the dam
What should you watch out for?
No tool is a silver bullet. There are issues for municipalities to watch out for with Pond Levellers, including:
The water level should only be lowered to the point that will protect human interests. If the water level is lowered too much, the beavers may move downstream to create a new dam
Although relatively low maintenance, periodic check-ups are required to ensure the pond leveller is free of debris, and is at the appropriate height for the pond
A provincial Water Act approval may be required, and where fish are present federal authorizations may be required
How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?
Pond Levellers reduce the unwanted flooding associated with beaver dams, while still maintaining the desired functions and services of beaver ponds: water capture, filtration, and storage, habitat creation, and control of water velocity and temperature. This helps to maintain all aspects of the natural infrastructure system.
Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration - This website, created by the Putting Beavers to Work collaborative (Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish), provides information on the benefits of beavers and how to coexist with them. There are fact sheets, videos, and a map of where pond levellers are being used in Alberta.
Beaver Pond Leveller Installation: Training Session Video - This video is a tool to assist in the installation of beaver management devices. It was created as part of the Putting Beavers to Work collaborative.
Beaver Coexistence Tools – Developed by the Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish, this fact sheet provides a broad summary of solutions that can help mitigate beaver coexistence issues and foster human-wildlife coexistence.
The Beaver Institute – The Beaver Institute advances beaver management and watershed restoration by providing technical and financial assistance to landowners, supporting scientific research, training mitigation professionals, and increasing public appreciation of the beaver’s critical role in creating wetland ecosystems.
Did we miss something?
If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!