College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Clemson Extension offers stormwater pond preparation tips


Stormwater ponds are designed to receive water and mitigate flooding.
Stormwater ponds are designed to receive runoff and mitigate flooding.
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. – Hurricanes are churning in the Atlantic Ocean and the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service says now is the time to start preparing stormwater ponds.

Amy Scaroni, assistant professor of watershed management at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, said property owners should start now to ensure these ponds are in good health.

“Stormwater ponds are probably the most common practice we use in our communities to manage flood events,” Scaroni said. “As part of your annual preparations for hurricane season, it is important to make sure your pond is in good health so it will be able to manage these large flooding events without impacting residents’ properties and roadways.”

Stormwater ponds are designed to receive runoff and mitigate flooding. Scaroni said residents can take some simple steps before a storm to help ensure these ponds operate efficiently.

The first step is to ensure all inlets and outlets, which control flow moving into the pond and flow moving out, are clear of vegetation, sediment or debris that could block flow into and out of the pond.

Next, community residents should ensure that storm drains and ditches around neighborhoods are clear to allow water to flow smoothly to the stormwater pond designed to receive it.

“Often during dry weather, storm drains can get blocked with leaves and lawn debris, or sometimes people dump things down there that they are not supposed to,” Scaroni said.

“When a big rainstorm comes, you want the water to freely flow into the storm drain. If storm drains are blocked, you could end up with localized flooding on streets and throughout neighborhoods. And the same thing with ditches, which can fill in with sediment and vegetation and may have less capacity to channel water downstream.”

Some large stormwater ponds or reservoirs, particularly those in inland locations off the coast, have dams that the South Carolina Department of Environmental Services regulates. Pond owners unsure of what actions to take to ensure their dam is safe should contact the Department’s Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program.

Residents preparing for a large storm should also take the proactive step of bagging any yard waste and debris around their properties to prevent this waste from ending up in the storm drain.

“A lot of our ponds performed pretty well in past storms, but I’ve seen situations where people have put wood up in front of their pond’s outlet to create a higher pond level, or they’ve been dumping down the drain and it has inhibited flow,” Scaroni said. “So, if there was a hurricane on top of those situations, it can really cause a lot of damage in the community.”

To help property owners with questions about water resources, such as stormwater ponds, the Clemson Extension Service has the Water Resources Team.

Additional online resources for residents who need more information on problem-solving for stormwater ponds and management recommendations include:

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