“Stormwater detention ponds are widely used and are among the most effective stormwater treatment practices. They remove pollutants by slowing the flow of rushing storm water and holding it long enough to allow sediment, nutrients and other pollutants to settle out. They can also help communities meet the “control measures” required by new federal and state regulations. In addition to removing pollutants, many ponds are designed to create an aesthetic site amenity, wildlife habitat and/or a development focal point or recreational area. Inviting as they may look, However, storm water ponds can also pose hazards including strong currents during storm events, steep side slopes and drop-offs, unsafe winter ice and contaminated water and sediment.” (David S. Liebl, Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center)

 Three major safety concerns when it comes to a stormwater pond:

 1. Steep Embankments

A steep embankment can make it hard to get out of the pond on the off chance that somebody falls in or decides to walk into the pond, drowning could occur. Likewise a steep embankment can be risky to support staff, for example, those working lawnmowers, providing critter control or clearing out inlet/outlet structures.

2.  Unsafe sediment

A properly designed and maintained detention or retention stormwater pond protects our lakes and streams by holding overflow contaminants, such as silt and phosphorus. If a stormwater pond accumulates silt and phosphorus the growth of toxic algae occurs, which can be harmful to people and pets. 

3.  Inlet/Outlet Structures 

Heavy rainfall can produce strong currents passing through inlet/outlet structures.  Blocked and unprotected structures can be dangerous. For example, if a safety rack is not placed properly they do not adequately moderate water speed and could trap an individual or animal against them. Also, stormwater ponds can become a gathering point for trash and debris of various kinds causing blockage and improper function of the stormwater pond. 

 Safety Tips to Reduce Risks are:  

1.  Education 

Providing knowledge to the neighborhoods HOA and community as well as their maintenance staff about the stormwater pond function and risks. Also helping them to see the pond as a stormwater facility that treats polluted water rather than an amenity. 

2.  Posted Warning Signs

Posted signs such as “no swimming”are a deterrent. You should also post a sign with the phone number to call to report damage or other issues.

3.  Pond perimeter protection  

Create a protection buffer along the perimeter of the pond by planting bushes and tall grass. This kind of buffer can reduce the risk of someone falling into the pond as well as discourage wading or swimming in the pond. 

4.  Limit pond access with fencing 

Fencing is required when the ponds side slopes are steep.  Fencing can provide a deterrent to the dumping of debris and trash as well as protection from injury or drowning. 

Contact Georgia Stormwater Services today for a consultation 770-710-4379 to ensure your stormwater detention or retention pond is properly functioning and has safety features in place.   


Storm Water Detention Ponds Site Safety & Design Written by David S. Liebl, Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center (SHWEC), University of Wisconsin–Extension, http://clean-water.uwex.edu

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