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Stormwater Pond Management

Stormwater Pond Management

Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois

Stormwater ponds are common throughout Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. They are constructed as part of major development projects and are used to address stormwater runoff, during and after construction. These basins are great tools for managing floods, collecting sediment, and filtering pollutants. However, when left to their own devices, these ponds gradually lose their ability to clean and capture our stormwater.

These ponds and basins require attention and maintenance. Planning for annual, proactive management is much simpler and more cost-effective than suddenly budgeting for major pond repairs. Many municipalities require stormwater ponds to be inspected to ensure proper water management. When ponds do not pass inspection, owners find themselves with expensive dredging projects or pipe replacements.

Below are some common issues with stormwater ponds.

Damaged, Degraded, Blocked, or Broken Inlet and Outlet Pipes

The inlet to a stormwater pond is often a pipe or overland contour, such as a ditch. These are the channels that feed the pond. It is important to ensure these avenues are unobstructed by vegetation and structurally sound. Cracking, collapsing, or clogging pipes will pool water in undesirable places. These need to be monitored regularly. Beyond this structure is typically a layer of riprap. This is rock placed in strategic locations to prevent erosion of soil around the pipe. This material needs to be inspected to determine if it is present in sufficient quantities. Our biologists are trained to monitor for damage and impairments before they manifest major structural failures.

Outlets are typically designed as spillways, or pipe/control structures. These structures need to be monitored for debris blocking the egress of water, sediment accumulation, and structural failures. Spillways need to have a rock lining and/or a strong vegetative community to minimize erosion. Pipes, culverts, and control structures need to be monitored for collapses, blockages, sediment accumulation and cracking. Our team of biologists can assist with monitoring, maintenance, and repair of these structures.

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Sediment Accumulation and Reduced Capacity

Ponds accumulate sediment in two ways. Sediment can enter the pond from an outside source, and can be both inorganic (sand, clay, or mineral) or organic. The second option is an internal accumulation of organic sediments. This happens in low-oxygen environments.

Ponds inevitably grow plants. When plants die, they leave behind organic material. When sufficiently oxygenated, this material promptly decomposes. Decomposition limits the accumulation of organic sediments by condensing solids, repurposing molecules, and simplifying compounds. Consequently, the organics primarily leave the pond as gasses.

However, decomposition needs oxygen to be efficient. Ponds do not typically receive sufficient oxygen to keep up with the oxygen demand imposed by decomposers. Consequently, organic materials do not fully break down and instead accumulate as muck. This muck reduces the volume of the pond and its capacity to retain stormwater.

When ponds accumulate too much sediment, they need to be excavated or dredged. This process can be very costly. However, our staff of experienced water resource professionals can comprehensively manage your stormwater pond to minimize sediment accumulation. If you already have a full sediment load, we can assist you with dredging.

Erosion and Shoreline Migration

Erosion and shoreline migration are some of the most common issues regarding stormwater ponds. These processes change the shape of the pond while decreasing its volume, and increasing the need for dredging.

Erosion around established stormwater ponds often results from improper riparian management and improper plant management. Regularly mowing lawns up to the shoreline, without rock stabilization, often results in bank erosion. Lawn grasses do not have sufficient root mass to stabilize shoreline soils. Additional stabilization is often necessary.

Muskrats and beavers will tunnel into the banks of ponds. This tunneling action causes banks to collapse in places and creates a plume of sediment at the base of the den. This destabilizes banks and increases the sediment load within the pond. Muskrats and beavers are best managed by limiting food supplies.

Improperly vegetated shorelines can lead to erosion. Woody shrubs and trees block sunlight from reaching the ground. This limitation of sunlight prevents small, fine-rooted plants from establishing. Over time, this allows for the slow erosion of shorelines. Woody vegetation should be removed from stormwater basins.

Our staff specializes in managing healthy shorelines, restoring degraded slopes, and proactively offering mitigation solutions.

Invasive, Problematic, and Toxic Plants/Algae

Stormwater basins are designed to capture pollutants, nutrients, and sediment. This creates an environment that is perfectly suited for rampant algae and aquatic plant growth. Invasive aquatic plants thrive in these conditions. These plants rapidly accumulate organic sediment in basins and block the movement of water.

This environment is also ideally suited for toxic algal blooms. Toxic algal blooms are hazardous to human and pet health. Stormwater basins require the management of problematic plants and the nutrients that fuel them. Our biologists are trained to identify and understand what plants are appropriate for your pond, and what are deleterious. Our staff of licensed chemical applicators can handle all plant management needs, and complete aquatic plant management permitting within Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Pond & Lake Management Professionals Serving Wisconsin & Upper Peninsula Michigan / Northern Illinois Area