In a sprawling urban environment, how does the use of underground sewers and water diversion pipes affect the trees and natural landscape above ground?

I live in downtown Toronto and have noticed a lot of ants around our condo building and around the yards on friends properties and I’m wondering if the ground is getting dried out because of climate change or the built environment or because the extreme imbalance in the ecosystem in an urban environment favours certain creatures (like ants). I’d like to understand more the stresses (in addition to air pollution) that affect urban ecology.



  1. 0 Votes

    Your question is a really excellent one that raises a lot of issues. So many things about urban expansion affect local ecology, including city planning, local waste service management, expanding populations, etc, but most people tend to just focus on air pollution and forget about all these other important factors.

    In response to your question in particular, the diversion of water and sewage lines to run in contained underground structures means that lots of natural spaces with urban ecological landscapes are left for dead, dried out and not given access to the water and pollination diversification that ensures nutrient-rich soil. This limits animal and plant life to those spaces reserved for them by existing infrastructures (trees in front of buildings, along a sidewalk, etc.). Of course, in containing the environment in such an instrumental, rudimentary way there is a lot of displacement which forces many species of birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and plants into chaotic states of rapid adjustment as they have to adjust to the new rules of confinement urban living has created for them by diverting the water and usurping the land. This could definitely be a cause of your recent ant sightings, particularly in such a hot time of year when water confinement is likely to be an even larger issue for members of urban ecologies.

    The link below has some really great references for exploring more issues about the urban landscape, but I hope my little summary helped somewhat!

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