A Field-Based Evaluation of Wet Retention Ponds: How Effective Are Ponds at Water Quantity Control?

Authors

  • Gregory S. Hancock,

    1. Respectively, Associate Professor (Hancock), Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jonathan W. Holley,

    1. Graduate Student (Holley) and, Professor (Chambers), Department of Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187 [Holley now at Environmental Services Division, Harris County Flood Control District, 9900 Northwest Freeway, Houston, Texas].
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Randolph M. Chambers

    1. Graduate Student (Holley) and, Professor (Chambers), Department of Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187 [Holley now at Environmental Services Division, Harris County Flood Control District, 9900 Northwest Freeway, Houston, Texas].
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Paper No. JAWRA-09-0178-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA).Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Hancock: gshanc@wm.edu)

Abstract

Hancock, Gregory S., Jonathan W. Holley, and Randolph M. Chambers, 2010. A Field-Based Evaluation of Wet Retention Ponds: How Effective Are Ponds at Water Quantity Control? Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 46(6):1145–1158. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00481.x

Abstract:  Wet retention ponds are widely used structural stormwater best management practices (BMPs) with the primary goals of reducing peak flows and extending flow duration. Despite widespread use, few field-based studies have evaluated the success of wet retention ponds at meeting these goals. We determined pond elevation, flow rate, and pond volume over four years in five suburban watersheds in James City County, Virginia. We selected five ponds designed under regulations requiring a 24 hour inflow-to-outflow centroid lag time for a one year, 24 hour design storm. We used pressure transducers to measure pond water surface elevation at 5 min intervals, and calculated pond outflow and volume using rating curves obtained from site stormwater management plans (SWMPs). Peak inflows, peak outflows, and runoff ratios frequently exceeded SWMP calculations in measured events. Four ponds never achieved the required 24 hour inflow-to-outflow centroid lag for storms similar to the one year, 24 hour storm. These BMPs fail to achieve regulatory goals for channel protection because of regulatory loopholes, underprediction of rainfall intensity, unrealistic predictions of postdevelopment flows in SWMPs, and the inability of wet retention ponds to reduce overall runoff volume. While specific to one locality, the shortcomings highlighted suggest similar field-based assessments of retention pond performance are needed in other locations.

Ancillary