Keeping It Clean: What Is Stormwater Detention?

Stormwater Detention

Have you ever seen those big, ugly basins near highways and wondered what they’re for? Chances are, they’re stormwater detention basins.

But what exactly is stormwater detention? How does it work, and why do we need it? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at stormwater management and its benefits. Keep reading to find out more!

What is Stormwater Detention?

In some cases, ponds seem like a great way to stop the flow of rainwater from eroding our roads and homes. However, stormwater can collect pollutants as it flows across parking lots and streets before draining into these ponds. The result is an overflow of polluted stormwater that must be contained or treated before it’s released back into the environment.

Stormwater detention is a way to stop this deluge of polluted runoff in its tracks. This is done by creating a temporary reservoir for it, then slowly releasing the water at a controlled rate. Essentially, it’s a storage system for excess water from storms and heavy rains.

Do you want to learn more about the difference between stormwater and wastewater? If so, click the highlighted link.

What’s the Purpose of Stormwater Management?

Stormwater detention facilities are essential in protecting our environment from the negative effects of too much stormwater.

Water quality is the main concern in the practice of stormwater detention. That’s because it can carry an assortment of contaminants that are not present in normal rainfall.

These include sediments, salts, oil and grease from roads, pesticides and herbicides from lawns, toxic metals from car emissions, pet waste, leachate from landfills, and anything else that might end up in its path.

As many of these pollutants are introduced into the environment, they harm plants and animals alike. They also make their way into our drinking water through run-off rainwater. Unfortunately, this leads to environmental damage and contamination of potable freshwater.

How Does Stormwater Detention Work?

Stormwater detention is the process of temporarily storing the overflow from a storm drain or sewer system during large storms to prevent flooding. The water is stored in retention ponds onsite at residential, commercial, industrial, and publicly developed properties. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Stormwater Center of the University of Texas at Austin estimate that on average, $7 billion annually is spent on repairing damages caused by flooding in the U.S.

The majority of the damage is due to poor water management.

The Benefits of Stormwater Management

As explained above, stormwater detention is essential. It helps to protect the environment and the general population. Without it, the stormwater would create a huge safety and health risk. Thankfully, organizations like the EPA have found ways to contain stormwater. Detention ponds are a common component of our infrastructure.

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