Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Retention Basins (Wet Ponds)

In a recent blog post we talked about dry detention basins which hold water temporarily and release it slowly into the environment.  A retention basin works in a similar way but retention basins can store water for longer periods of time, mimicking a real lake or pond.  Retention basins are effective in storing and slowing runoff, thereby improving water quality by allowing pollutants to filter out of the water column. 

To find some examples of retention basins, we visited Dartmouth Crossing to see how stormwater runoff was collected from the large roofs and parking lots at the shopping centre.
Retention pond behind Walmart

We were pleasantly surprised to see and hear a gurgling stream in this landscape with so much pavement and hard surface cover.  The stream, Grassy Brook, is largely fed by runoff collected off parking lots and rooftops. A drop of water that lands on Walmart’s roof or parking lot is collected underground then released into Grassy Brook which flows behind the building. Marsh vegetation and willow trees were planted to enhance habitat and slow the flow of water, thereby helping to remove pollutants. Since white surfaces absorb less heat and stay cooler on sunny days, Walmart's roof is painted white to keep water temperature cool, as warm water entering a natural system can harm fish and other species. The increased flow of water into the retention basin and into Grassy Brook has created an active spawning site for trout.
White roof
 The wet pond shown below has both aesthetic and functional purposes. The pond is surrounded by a walking path, and an amphitheatre, so people can listen to concerts and enjoy the scenery. Trout also use this pond as a spawning area.
Pondside amphitheatre retention basin.The pipes in the background (left)
collect overflow during extreme precipitation events.
Runoff is slowly released into the pond through this small opening
to avoid a high peak flow.

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