Retention ponds have become a common feature of suburban and urban areas. They serve a critical purpose in water filtration and preventing flash floods during heavy down pours. Plus, they can be a charming part of the neighborhood with plants, fountains and wildlife. People often think of them as ponds rather than structures, and while it’s important to be cautious around both – retention ponds have unique risks you may not be aware of.
Retention ponds are built to have steep retaining walls, this can make it difficult to climb out if you happen to fall in. These can also be hazardous for maintenance crews that do landscaping and up-keep around retention pond.
Strong currents after a storm at both inlet and outlet areas can also pose a danger, especially if protective bars or grating is built to close to the drain. These currents can be strong enough to hold a person pinned against the grating, preventing people who would otherwise be able to swim to safety, from doing so.
Since retention ponds collect runoff and storm water, they are designed to act as a filtration system before the water moves on into local rivers, lakes and streams. As such, the sediment collected in the depth of these structures can contain heavy metals and contaminates. They can also have toxic algae blooms which can threaten the lives of children and pets or cause serious illness if ingested or placed in direct contact with skin.
Signage, and occasionally fencing, are used to dissuade people from swimming and fishing in retention ponds or venturing out on the ice when frozen. However, drowning (according to the CDC) remains the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-14 years. A significant number of these incidents occur in water retention and detention ponds. It is important to discuss the dangers of these areas with your family and the importance of observing any and all warning postings in and around your community.