Maintaining your storm water management pond

Storm water management ponds require regular maintenance to insure they function properly. Poorly maintained ponds can reduce their ability to control flooding and/or prevent pollution.

Storm water management ponds – either detention, retention or a combination of both – are designed to collect storm water and filter out pollutants before it infiltrates the ground. However, to ensure your storm water pond works at its optimal level, regular maintenance is required. Responsibility for maintenance of these ponds can vary. If you have a Homeowner’s Association or business agreement, that may spell out who is responsible for maintenance. If you’re still unsure who is responsible, contact your community’s public works or engineering department.

The first step of any pond maintenance program is to obtain a copy of the pond plan from your community’s engineering or public works department if your business or association does not already have it. At a minimum, the Homeowner’s Association or business owner should do an annual inspection of the pond and additional inspections after each major storm event.

Basic maintenance should include:

Inspect the inlet and outlet pipes

The inlet pipes direct the storm water from roads, driveways and yard to the storm water pond. There typically are two or three inlet pipes going into the pond. Check these pipes to insure they are not broken or collapsing. Check for obstructions such as debris around the pipe opening or sediment build up. Either of these should be removed to insure storm water can flow into the pond without backing up. Check the Rip Rap around the pipe. Rip Rap are pieces of stone placed around where the pipe enters the basin. Rip Rap is used to prevent erosion of the soil around the opening. Any missing Rip Rap will need to be replaced.

Outlet pipes send the storm water out of the pond or basin to a nearby river or stream. Usually there is only one outlet pipe. The pipe should be inspected for debris or sediment build up and the condition of the pipe similar to the inlet pipe inspection.

The pipe may be connected to a pump system. A pumps used to better control the flow out of the pond. The pump is placed in a wetwell. When the wetwell fills to specific level, the pump turns on and discharges the water into a stream, river or local sewer system. If the pond has a pump system, it must be maintained by a licensed electrician.

Litter and debris inspection
Twice a year and after a major storms, the pond should be checked for debris in the basin and around the inlet and outlet pipes. Any debris should be removed to insure optimal operation of the storm water pond.

Erosion control inspection
Semi-annually and after a major storm, the sides of the pond should be checked for signs of erosion. This could be gullies or sloughing of the banks of the pond. Check for disturbances from animals or vehicles. Fill in any eroded or gouged out areas with soil and reseed. Cover the seed with landscape fabric or straw to prevent the seeds from washing into the pond.

Inspect vegetation in and around the pond
Check for any invasive plant species in or around the pond. Remove these non-native plants using proper removal techniques. Contact Michigan State University Extension’s Lawn and Garden Hotline at 1-888-678-3464 for information on proper removal.

Water quality in the pond can be improved by adding the correct plants and shrubs along the pond’s banks. These will help filter out pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and oil. It also will add visual appeal, bird and other wildlife habitat. Choose plants and shrubs based on the type of soil and soil moisture.

Keeping your storm water management pond in its optimal working order will protect your health, your property and water quality.

For more information on specific maintenance practices, see the following resources:

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