Where Does the Rainwater Go?rainwater

Rain, rain go away. Florida, from one end of the state to the other, typically deals with an extraordinary amount of rainfall during hurricane season. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs recently noted a cumulative rainfall amount from January to October 31 2017 of 547 inches. But where does all that water go?

Retention and Detention Ponds

Rain water drains from hard surfaces, such as roofs, sidewalks parking lots, streets and driveways into storm water retention ponds where the water is stored and slowly percolated into the ground or, if water levels are high enough, water is discharged off site into the local flood control drainage system. By holding back collected rainwater for a period storm water ponds allow organic and inorganic pollutants and excess nutrients to diminish before water is discharged offsite. Storm water ponds therefore serve the dual purpose of flood control and pollution abatement .

  • Retention ponds hold the water throughout the year and are usually larger and deeper than a detention pond.
  • Detention ponds are very shallow and designed to temporarily hold water after a storm event before drying out again after a few days. They are most often dry and form a shallow depression in the earth.

What’s in the Water?

In Florida, because our water table is just a few feet beneath ground level, our ponds are mostly filled by groundwater seepage which is often high in phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients and low in dissolved oxygen. Watershed rainfall runoff is the next largest contributor of water to our storm water ponds and surprisingly is also high in phosphorus thanks to atmospheric phosphorus particles. Rainfall flowing across the watershed into the ponds carries everything in its path: landscape debris, oil, and fertilizers, pesticides, litter, pet waste, and other detritus. All of that then becomes part of the aquatic ecosystem which supports a diverse range of plants, birds, animals, fish, beneficial micro-organisms and algae.

It is important to note that when water enters a storm drain, it­ does not go to a treatment facility, but rather is transported into numerous ponds, which eventually lead into Florida’s Bays, the Gulf of Mexico, and even into our drinking water supply.

rain puddlesIs Storm Water Safe?

When debris is picked up, it can choke or harm aquatic life such as ducks, turtles and fish. Excess nutrients in the water, from animal feces and fertilizer, can cause algal blooms.

The water in the storm water retention pond has not been treated. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the water is not safe. It’s best to not fish, swim, or wade in it.

What you can do to help your pond

There are plenty of steps you can take to keep your storm water retention ponds healthy.

  • Regularly clear outflow structures so high water can discharge offsite properly and avoid area flooding.
  • Plant the perimeter of the pond with attractive native vegetation to catch organic debris before it enters the pond and to prevent shoreline erosion.
  • Prevent muck buildup, foul odors, fish kills and excess algae growth by adding aeration that raises dissolved oxygen levels and lowers nutrients.
  • Monitor water quality on a routine schedule to understand the causes of pond problems and provide data to design a pond management plan that addresses the issues in an ecologically healthy and sustainable way.
  • Clean up after your pet. Take or use a pet waste bag and dispose of it in the garbage or provided waste can. Excess pet waste flowing into lakes and ponds contributes to bacterial pollution of surface waters, as well as increasing algal blooms. Remind residents to do the same.
  • Take vehicles to professional car washes where water is recycled and cleaning solutions are managed well. If washing vehicles at home is more cost efficient, use a biodegradable, phosphate-free soap.

Storm water flows abundantly in Florida. Be sure your retention lakes and ponds are as healthy as they can be.

Storm water ponds can be beautiful!

Call us today at 800-432-4302 if yours needs help