Ever wonder where all that abundant Florida rainwater goes after it hits your roof or runs down your driveway? Depending on where you live, that water, called stormwater, may flow into man-made stormwater ponds.
You may have noticed these areas of standing water surrounded by aquatic plants in your community. Though many people assume these ponds exist for aesthetic purposes and to enhance property value,1 the true purpose of stormwater ponds is to protect the water supply from pollutants and to manage flooding.2
Stormwater ponds were first created to deal with increasing urbanization. As more land was covered with houses, roads, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces, there were fewer places where water could naturally flow and seep into the ground, which could lead to flooding problems. In addition, before the introduction of stormwater ponds, runoff from urban areas, which contains sediments, fertilizers, heavy metals, oils, bacteria, and other waste, seeped into aquifers or flowed directly into rivers, lakes, and estuaries, damaging those ecosystems. Stormwater ponds and the vegetation surrounding them help filter out contaminants before water reaches these places.2, 3
So the next time you’re admiring the view of a local man-made pond, remember that these ponds not only beautify the neighborhood but also help preserve the natural beauty of all Florida ecosystems.
- Emily Ott, Paul Monaghan, Ondine Wells, Gail Hansen, Laura Warner, and Michelle Atkinson, Strategies to Encourage Adoption of Stormwater Pond Best Management Practices (BMPs) by Homeowners, AEC552, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc214
- Gary J. Reckner, Carolinda Batson, Betty Rushton, Julie Sternfels, Bill Watkins, Julia Palaschak, Erika Mondon, et al., Stormwater Ponds: A Citizen’s Guide to Their Purpose and Management (Sarasota, FL: Sarasota Soil and Water Conservation District, Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, n.d.), 9–17, http://manatee.ifas.ufl.edu/soils/PDFs/stormwater-ponds-a-citizens-guide.pdf
- G. F. O’Meara, Mosquitoes Associated with Stormwater Detention/Retention Areas, ENY627, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg338
Photo credits: UF/IFAS