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Retention Ponds

Nicole Stevens

dredging stormwater retention pondA hurricane can be over in a matter of hours, if that. But the damage is leaves behind can sometimes take months to repair. A big nuisance in the aftermath of Irma has been flooded retention ponds that, two months later, are still flooded and causing problems for certain Florida residents. Retention ponds along I-4 have been one of the more notable problems. Due to never-ending new construction, a house that had been around for over 40 years was a victim of the flooding mentioned here. It is something that can be avoided if caught before the storm hits.

The whole point of a retention pond is to prevent flooding during a storm, so what happens when the thing that’s supposed to stop the flooding, floods? A retention pond is set to hold a certain amount of water indefinitely, which is why this pond is also called a “wet pond." A typical retention pond is only 8-10 feet deep, and with water already in it, a storm surges the size of Irma would definitely fill up any remaining space and then some.

So how can this be avoided or rectified? One idea is to also keep a detention pond. This type of pond is the opposite of a retention pond, being called a “dry pond” and not keeping water filled in at all. A detention pond temporarily holds water as its slowly drains into another area, acting as a middleman for stormwater runoff. Their specific function is to aide in potential flash flooding, controlling the flood waters and depositing them elsewhere. And if a whole other pond isn’t exactly the solution in mind, there are several ideas floating around of adding discharge valves and drains to the retention ponds. This would eliminate the need for a dry pond, ultimately turning the wet pond into a dry pond but only for the moment. Several companies are working on the software to indicate potential flood hazards, which would activate the drain in the retention pond and get rid of current water, making way for the storms approaching.

Most of the flooding due to Irma has finally gone down to a bare minimum, though some places are still affected by high waters. With a better retention pond system in place, it could keep future homes and business from feeling mother nature’s wrath. 

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