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Don Valley Elevated Wetland Structures – A mix of art and the environment

November 2021

In Toronto’s Don Valley, sit three large, white sculptures that look either like the lower half of an elephant or giant teeth. These sculptures are known as the Elevated Wetlands Sculpture, a functional art display, installed in the summer of 1998, that brings together the plastics industry, the artistic community, and environmental stewardship.

Situated beside the Don Valley Parkway near the Don Mills interchange, these plastic structures, or “planters,” filter and purify water, polluted by the urbanization of the Don River watershed.

Created by artist is Noel Harding, the sculpture uses a solar-powered pump to lift water from the Don River into the first of the “planters,” all of which are hollow on the inside, and get progressively smaller.

The shredded, waste plastic contained inside the sculpture simulates soil, which encourages the vegetative growth, which in turn isolates and retrieves wastes, toxins and other impurities from the water, as they flow from one to the next. The water is emptied from the last sculpture into a natural wetland, which flows into the Don River.

Like all wetlands, these sculptures purify water by plant transpiration and by providing the right environment for micro-organisms that thrive on hydrocarbons and other pollutants.

In addition to purifying water, these unique sculptures also serve as an interesting tourist attraction for the Toronto area.

Sources: Elevated Wetlands (toronto.ca), Elevated Wetlands (lostrivers.ca), What’s the deal with those big teeth in the Don Valley? (blogto.com).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/don-valley-elevated-wetland-structures-a-mix-of-art-and-the-environment/

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