Detention ponds are a key component in reducing potential flooding on existing downstream infrastructure, homes and properties. Maintenance of these ponds is critical to help with stormwater management.

In addition, the increased volumes of flow resulting from added impervious areas during urbanization results in increased runoff volumes. Detention ponds mitigate both scenarios in providing a treatment basin for pollutant removal as well as a collection basin to retain the larger flows and thus reduce the peak runoff rates downstream.

Studies have shown that properly maintained detention ponds can be very effective at removing certain pollutants and providing necessary storage volumes during larger storm events. Improperly maintained ponds can increase the discharge of pollutants downstream, increase the risk of flooding downstream, increase the instability of downstream channels, and lead to aesthetic and nuisance problems.

In order for detention ponds to function as designed, they must be properly maintained. Frequent maintenance and inspection will ensure that potential problems are found early.

What causes a pond to fail?

Studies show that poor operation and maintenance is the leading cause of pond failure.

  • A detention pond can stop working properly when it falls into disrepair.
  • Trees growing on the dam can cause erosion failures
  • Poor vegetation maintenance in terms of mowing and weed control
  • The outlet and inlet structures can become clogged when trash, debris, vegetation, limbs, etc. pile up around the openings of the structure.

Knowing the function of a detention pond and why it was built at your commercial site or in your subdivision community and the importance of all the components working together should reduce the chance of pond failure.

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