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 noted a cumulative rainfall amount for 2017 of 573 inches. But where does all that water go?
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 .
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 is also surprisingly 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.
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.
There are plenty of steps you can take to keep your storm water retention ponds healthy.
Storm water flows abundantly in Florida. Be sure your retention lakes and ponds are as healthy as they can be.