Stormwater ponds are man-made features generally located near your neighborhood or business. A properly designed stormwater pond will mimic the ecological function of naturally occurring ponds and wetlands, removing a substantial amount of sediment and other pollutants from stormwater before releasing this water downstream into a lake, river, stream, wetland or infiltrate into the ground.
Landscaping is a critical component in the proper functioning of the stormwater pond. Unmowed vegetative buffers are essential to long term health of ponds and waterways. Buffers should also extend into the pond where possible using emergent wetland plants. The most important factor when designing a buffer is to choose the proper vegetation for the slope and soils. The buffer should include a diverse plant community that provides both habitat and aesthetic appeal.
The proper buffer will provide these components:
The proper plant community will prevent shoreline soil erosion (bank slumping) around the pond. It will also prevent herbicides and pesticides from going directly into the pond. Eliminating the need for fertilizers and frequent mowing will reduce the potential for algae blooms.
Diverse plant community will provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including predatory insects, amphibians and birds which keep mosquito populations in check. Tall native grasses will also discourage Canada Geese from taking over the pond and adjacent lawns.
Features to Add
Trails provide access for viewing and photographing birds, enjoying wildflowers, fall colors and for short strolls. Trails should be set well above the shoreline so they don’t flood when the water in the pond is high but may be designed to get wet in large overflow events.
Ponds are generally designed with gentle slopes so if someone falls into the pond, they are able to climb out. In locations were walls or steeper slopes are incorporated into the pond, a safety fence may be added. Since ponds are intended to be natural areas, like streams or natural ponds, the City avoids the use of fences where possible.
Public stormwater ponds are maintained by City crews. Private ponds are maintained by private landowners and inspected by City staff. Regulatory required maintenance is focused primarily on water quality benefits and ensuring that ponds have adequate sediment storage and inlets and outlets are not blocked by plants or debris. At times, these maintenance activities may detract from pond aesthetics, but efforts are made to reduce any such negative impact.
Stormwater crews are limited by budget constraints, so resources are focused primarily on functional pond attributes like storage, access, and water quality, and less on pond aesthetics.
How to Help
The biggest impact homeowners and businesses can have is to prevent pollutants from entering these ponds. Ponds are designed to remove pollutants, but they are not able to remove all pollutants.
In particular, soaps used to wash cars cannot be removed by ponds and actually suspend other pollutants to reduce the effectiveness of ponds. Don't wash your car in a place that drains into a pond. Using natural yard care practices and limiting the use of chemicals around the home are good measures everyone can take to reduce the source of pollutants, rather than relying on imperfect pond facilities to remove those pollutants.
If a local group has an interest in improving the aesthetics of a stormwater pond, through weed control, planting, adding trails, or other measures, the City has procedures in place to grant permission for such activities. Maintenance, planting, or vegetation removal without enrollment in this program is not permitted.