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Chapter 7 – Communication Recommendations for Improved Stormwater Pond Maintenance in Coastal South Carolina

Authors

Katie A. Callahan, Center for Watershed Excellence, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

Amy E. Scaroni, Ph.D. and C. Guinn Wallover, Clemson Extension Service, Charleston, S.C.

Melinda Weathers, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

Alex Neal, College of Communication, North Greenville University, Tigerville, S.C.

Corresponding Authors: Amy E. Scaroni, Ph.D. (ascaron@clemson.edu), C. Guinn Wallover (cggarre@clemson.edu)

7.1 Background

There are an estimated 9,269 development-related wet detention basins (herein referred to as stormwater ponds) in the coastal counties of S.C. (Chapter 1). As these ponds age, there is an increasing risk that poorly sized and poorly maintained ponds fail to control runoff effectively and export pollutants downstream (Mallin 2000; Mallin et al. 2001; Messersmith 2007). Despite variability in pond performance for treatment of multiple water quality parameters, regulations (i.e., requirement for seasonal high-water-table monitoring) could disincentivize low-impact development (LID) alternatives and maintain the status quo of wet detention ponds as the most frequently relied-on stormwater management control in coastal S.C. (e.g., 2012 S.C. DHEC Construction General Permit). With a rapidly growing coastal population, the number of ponds and the impervious areas they treat are expected to increase. In order to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of stormwater ponds, we need to ensure that our coastal residents and stormwater managers have access to tools and resources needed to make sound management decisions, communicate their efforts, and inform sustainable behaviors.

Crafting a consistent message that resonates will first involve identifying the level of awareness, knowledge, concern, and motivation of a specific audience. An analysis of what communication exists, how it is shared, and how it is interpreted in relation to stormwater pond ownership and responsibility is critical. Understanding audience values and motivations can then inform strategies to encourage sustainable behavior change toward performance of regular pond maintenance. Pond maintenance can reduce organic matter and sediment inputs to the pond, which can protect water quality in the pond and in downstream receiving waters. Education is an important component of any maintenance strategy designed to mitigate the negative environmental impacts to, and from, ponds.

7.2 Framework

7.2.1 Recognizing Multiple Audiences

Multiple audiences directly influence the function and performance of ponds (Figure 7.1). These audiences often have different pond use and maintenance goals, which can lead to conflicts when establishing management regimes. Though the prevalence of ponds across coastal South Carolina is primarily driven by local regulation, and assisted in part by the ease of modeling and design, ponds are largely privately owned. For ponds within neighborhoods, stormwater pond ownership transfers from developer to the homeowners’ association (HOA) at the time of Transfer of Developer’s Rights. Homeowners, often with no training in pond management, are then responsible for all decision-making on pond management, from scheduling maintenance to budgeting for sediment removal. In some multi-use communities, residents and businesses may share a pond, which increases the complexity of ownership, responsibility, and expectations of performance.

Figure 7.1 Multiple audiences and perceptions affect stormwater pond management and messaging.

Since 2006 under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program Phase II initiative, local government staff of designated quality local programs are responsible for approving the design and engineering of ponds and stormwater-related infrastructure, as well as inspecting the maintenance of these systems, post-construction. These staff in engineering, public works, and stormwater departments are also often called upon by HOAs seeking assistance with their pond. Furthermore, per the NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges (S.C. DHEC 2013), municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) communities permitted for their stormwater discharges are required to address waterways that are not meeting standards for their designated use and are identified by the state’s List of Impaired Waterbodies, or 303(d) list (TMDL program; see Chapter 6 for more discussion). If poorly managed ponds are identified as contributing to the impairment of their receiving waters, MS4s may require additional maintenance action by a community or HOA.

7.2.2 Objectives

The goal of this project was to develop a targeted outreach strategy focused on pond management that could best be addressed with education and behavior change, through the following objectives:

  1. Inventory recent and ongoing methodologies, needs, and successes of pond outreach efforts in coastal S.C.
  2. Use research, surveys, and interviews with experts to prioritize pond problems that can be minimized or eliminated by widespread behavior change, brought about by educational efforts.
  3. Use focus groups for audience analysis, including level of knowledge, awareness, and motivations related to pond management. Conduct an audience profile that also includes preferred methods of message delivery.
  4. Use the Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) approach to conduct a barriers-and-benefits analysis (McKenzie-Mohr 2011) to evaluate the likelihood of adoption of priority behaviors (e.g., installation of vegetated buffer zones).
  5. Use a panel to test audience response to messages, and modify messages based on feedback (Appendix A7-1).
  6. Develop an outreach strategy and initial outreach products for target audiences using the results of the evaluation in objectives 3 through 5 (Appendix A7-1 and Appendix A7-4).
  7. Develop a strategic outreach plan that includes activities and programs to increase awareness, instruct, and involve target audiences in sustainable actions to improve long-term stormwater pond management function.

7.2.3 Methods

Information was collected through a literature review, network query, expert interviews, and focus groups.

Network Queries

The Environmental Protection Agency-managed listserv NPSinfo, a community of more than 2,500 individuals from federal, state, and local government and numerous public and private organizations, was queried to gauge existing outreach efforts related to stormwater pond management and maintenance.

Expert Surveys

MS4 staff and representatives of pond management companies were surveyed in order to prioritize those stormwater pond issues that can best be minimized or eliminated by resident behavior change.

Surveys were implemented as recorded phone interviews; each survey participant was kept anonymous per university institutional review board policies and approval. Completion of the full survey required 30-45 minutes of the participant’s time (Appendix A7-2). Seven experts were asked to participate in each of three regions (Beaufort area, Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester tri-county area, and Myrtle Beach area), and from that group 10 experts participated in the survey (results presented in Appendix A7-3).

Focus Groups

Focus groups were conducted in three different regions (North Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Beaufort) between June and July of 2015. Focus group participants consisted of HOA board members, stormwater sub-committee members, and residents, and each survey participant was kept anonymous per university institutional review board policies and approval. Each focus group hosted five to 10 people, and the same 14 questions were asked at each event (Appendix A7-2). Not every participant answered every question.

7.3 Recommendations for Outreach and Improved Communication Strategies

Recommendation 1

Messages should help all residents feel a sense of ownership of the stormwater pond and responsibility for its maintenance and performance.

All residents, including renters, are an integral part of pond maintenance and performance, but it is important to recognize that property owners have a greater stake in neighborhood stormwater pond management and services. In order to develop a climate of shared responsibility and decision-making for improved pond maintenance, communities need to establish a sense of shared ownership and an understanding of the personal benefits they receive from the pond(s) in their neighborhood. Focus group and expert survey feedback (detailed methods in Appendix A7-2 and Appendix A7-3) indicated discrepancies in the level of awareness of pond ownership and maintenance responsibility between residents, those who were more highly involved in community decision-making (i.e., HOA board member), and those who live in close proximity to the pond itself.

For the majority of participants in our focus groups, their neighborhood Property Association/HOA owns the neighborhood stormwater pond and contracts with a pond management company for maintenance. Individual neighborhoods varied on the estimated percentage of residents aware of stormwater pond ownership. In most cases, few residents were aware of stormwater pond maintenance requirements and their responsibilities.

Almost all participants indicated that their HOA set aside funds annually for pond maintenance. Feedback was mixed on whether the amount set aside was adequate to cover maintenance costs. Anecdotal observations suggest that for many communities this funding is earmarked for short-term maintenance, and funds will be lacking when the stormwater pond reaches the end of its effective lifespan and needs to be dredged.

Recommendation 2

Communicate the pathways of stormwater; how it passes over impervious surfaces, collects contaminants, and ultimately is collected within the engineered pond.

The lack of consideration for, and awareness of, whole neighborhood responsibility may stem from the fact that in many cases residents are unfamiliar with stormwater management and are not aware that their pond is an engineered practice designed to capture and store stormwater runoff. When a resident moves into a neighborhood with a pond, it is often billed as an aesthetic feature providing waterfront property. Communication efforts should focus on the role of the stormwater pond and responsibilities for maintenance.

An official mechanism exists to communicate responsibility for stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (S.C. DHEC), under the South Carolina Stormwater Management and Sediment Reduction Act of 1991 (48-14-10, et. seq.), requires and assigns stormwater system and BMP facility maintenance through Regulation 72-308. This document includes the following:

  • Requires adequate maintenance of stormwater infrastructure and BMP facilities, including structures, improvements, and vegetation, defining this as good working condition so that facilities are performing to their design functions.
  • Requires and assigns inspection of all facilities and stormwater structures.
  • Grants access to S.C. DHEC and/or city or county of jurisdiction for inspection as deemed necessary and in response to reported deficiencies or citizen complaints.
  • Mandates that S.C. DHEC and/or county or city of jurisdiction provides inspection findings and directive for repairs to owner.
  • Commits owner to perform work necessary to keep facilities in working condition and following a maintenance schedule, if it exists. Failure to maintain may result in fines up to $1,000 per day.
  • Releases S.C. DHEC and the county or city of jurisdiction from liability of any kind for stormwater facility failures.

Through expert surveys and focus groups, we found that this document is rarely accompanied by a maintenance schedule for the pond and stormwater infrastructure for which ownership is being transferred. This presents a significant disconnect between those responsible for private stormwater infrastructure upkeep and those responsible for maintaining and restoring surface waters that may be impacted by polluted stormwater discharges enforced by the MS4. Additionally, this lack of communication may handicap proactive efforts of MS4 communities to improve pond maintenance activities of neighborhoods within their jurisdiction through an education effort in advance of enforcement. Per the NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Regulated Small MS4 regulation effective in January 2014, MS4 communities are mandated to identify if a waterway’s inability to effectively meet water quality standards is due to polluted stormwater runoff. If polluted runoff is identified as the cause for impairment, the MS4 must make specific and locally appropriate efforts to address impaired waterways (as identified in the 303(d) List of Impaired Waters) or in accordance with approved and established total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) within their MS4 jurisdiction.

Recommendation 3

Messages should recognize the complexity of stormwater pond management and offer specific management strategies for stormwater ponds. Messages should be proactive and include actionable behaviors.

Focus group discussions indicated that providing residents with knowledge and tools could influence their willingness and ability to address stormwater pond maintenance and performance. Participants were highly engaged in the discussions and expressed concern about stormwater pond maintenance and the impact of stormwater ponds on the local environment. Focus group participants included both HOA board members and residents of coastal communities with stormwater ponds. Specifically, the participants’ concerns focused on health of wildlife, public health, and health of the overall ecosystem, as well as property values and recreational opportunities.

Participants’ maintenance priorities included addressing eroding banks, invasive aquatic plants, water quality (including dissolved oxygen and clarity), algal blooms, water levels, nuisance wildlife, and general aesthetics. Some neighborhoods attempt pond maintenance themselves, while others subcontract out for individual maintenance actions or hire a pond management company. Results varied on whether or not their community had an inspection and maintenance plan for the pond, and those that did generally relied on a pond management company to provide maintenance and perform inspections. Several neighborhoods indicated a desire for specific maintenance recommendations from government or academic resources so they could take greater control over their pond’s maintenance plan, as opposed to relying on a pond management company to make all decisions.

The participants’ discussions showed that their willingness to manage ponds is connected to their ability to consider the whole system and all options for problem-solving pond issues over the life of the pond. Participants expressed a need for comprehensive guidance and solutions. Similarly, Casagrande (1997) identified that a traditional approach with residents (i.e., only periodically providing feedback on environmental planning decisions) is insufficient. A case study that evaluated community connection to ecosystem restoration found that neighborhoods, government agencies, private consultants, and/or industry must all participate in the restoration planning process as equals through the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the plan. Without this level of participation, a lack of ownership results (Casagrande 1997).

Beyond responsibility and ownership, participants in this research effort spoke of ambiguity in stormwater pond dredging time frames, requirements, and procedures. The S.C. Best Management Practice Manual (S.C. DHEC 2005) recommends dredging every 5-10 years or after 25% of the permanent pool volume has been lost due to accumulated sediment. Additionally, during a review of the policy recommendations (Chapter 5), we found no specific guidance for dredging activities in either county or municipal ordinances and BMP design manuals. The only manual that mentioned pond dredging was the City of Charleston manual, which stated there must be “adequate clearance…to perform dredging” in the forebay and main pond, and that these activities should be “routine” (City of Charleston 2012). At this time, no testing parameters for contaminants in dredged material exists in South Carolina regulations. However, disposal of dredge material to waterways is illegal without permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which may require analysis of bottom sediments and/or dredged material.

Recommendation 4

Messages should target audiences that influence stormwater pond design and maintenance as early in the process as possible. Messages should also include positive neighborhood feedback to challenge social norms.

The primary objective of our recommendations for improved communication practices is to encourage behaviors that will result in sustained and increased pond maintenance and performance. Increasing knowledge does not always equate to behavior change; therefore, bringing about a behavior change first requires an analysis of values, social norms, individual perceptions, and social institutions, and how these together influence behavioral decisions and interpretation of knowledge (Casagrande 1996). Focus group feedback provided insight into existing social norms, target audiences, and communication needs.

Case Study: Perception of Shoreline Aesthetic

To gauge both functionality and aesthetic perceptions related to three different types of shoreline design (vegetated buffer, mowed turf grass, and bulkhead), participants discussed each of these strategies, and then reflected on which one they preferred as the most attractive option. The responses and overall impressions from the group are summarized below.

Participants had mixed positive and negative views on vegetated buffers along the shoreline (Figure 7.2). While some participants voiced that shoreline plants help to stabilize the shoreline and filter pollutants, others raised concerns about nuisance wildlife habitat and fears of these plants spreading throughout the pond, raising additional maintenance concerns. Some communities have written into HOA covenants that the shoreline must be mowed and vegetated shorelines are not an option for them. Others worried about blocking water views, and the inconsistent “hodge podge” look of the assorted plants in the buffer photo, while expressing a preference for a monoculture of tall grasses for a more consistent look.

Perceived BenefitsPerceived Drawbacks
Limits trashExpensive
Protects shoreline from erosion from wind and wavesEasily damaged by muskrats
Less mowingThreat of plants spreading into pond
AttractivePotential for taller plants to limit viewscape
 Maintenance concerns (watering when water is low)

Figure 7.2 Schematic showing preference for vegetated buffer shoreline option by Beaufort and Charleston focus group participants relative to Grand Strand focus group participants.

Participants were generally concerned about wave action and shoreline erosion impacts to a mowed turf grass shoreline (Figure 7.3). Opinions were divided on whether or not this was an attractive option, but many participants recognized that is wasn’t the best option for water quality protection or shoreline stabilization. Several assumed their neighbors would be receptive to this strategy, since it wouldn’t impede a water view, but also mentioned neighbors might not like this “uninteresting” look.

Perceived BenefitsPerceived Drawbacks
Meets HOA codes, convenents, and restrictions (CCRs)Wave action leads to failing banks
No obstruction of viewTurf is fertilized and results in excessive algal growth
Expected aestheticTurf requires additional chemicals to look healthy, which negatively effect water quality
 Minimal protection of pollution from parking lot runoff
 Property loss

Figure 7.3 Schematic showing preference for mowed turf shoreline option by Beaufort and Charleston focus group participants relative to Grand Strand focus group participants.

Many participants felt that bulkheads or a hardened shoreline were effective options for protecting the shoreline, but that they were not always feasible due to cost (Figure 7.4). Others pointed out the lack of habitat, expense of maintenance, and impact on adjacent soft shorelines.

Perceived BenefitsPerceived Drawbacks
Keeps water where it is supposed to beNo mitigation of runoff volume
Protects shoreline from erosionEasily damaged by muskrats
 Cost prohibitive for HOA
 Repairs are costly for homeowners
 No wildlife habitat (birds on shoreline, fish in water)
 Maintenance concerns (watering when water is low)

Figure 7.4 Schematic showing preference for a bulkheaded shoreline option by Grand Strand focus group participants.

Overall, participants were able to identify some of the impacts their stormwater pond has on coastal water quality, and were able to make the connection with ecosystem services that either directly or indirectly benefited themselves and their communities. Shellfish, finfish, general ecosystem health, and property values were the most commonly cited ecosystem services, although some participants did not make a connection between stormwater ponds and downstream water quality. It was widely perceived that residences and golf courses, where applicable, have the largest impact on the water quality in their stormwater pond.

Participants’ perceptions of the acceptable social norm were identified as significant barriers in implementing a well-recognized BMP, the vegetated buffer. Vegetated shoreline buffers are commonly accepted as a best practice for preventing soil loss and erosion along ponds and lakes. Vegetated buffers along riparian areas filter and slow runoff, promote sedimentation and infiltration, enhance plant uptake of nutrients, and facilitate microbial decomposition of pollutants. Buffer use along stormwater pond shorelines may also assist in mitigating the impacts of overland flow from properties adjacent to the pond. In coastal S.C., most pond banks are designed and installed with a monoculture of turf grass and maintained by mowing to the water’s edge or to the steep slope to the pond surface (Figure 7.5). This design and maintenance scheme often goes unchanged after pond ownership is transferred from the developer to the HOA.

Figure 7.5 Image of a stormwater pond typical of those found in coastal South Carolina, with mowed turf to the water’s edge.

Feedback from focus groups showed a variety of concerns and misperceptions that can be addressed to reduce barriers to adoption of vegetated shorelines. Concerns included the creation of habitat for undesirable wildlife (e.g., snakes), plant viability with fluctuating water levels, spread of shoreline plants throughout the pond similar to aquatic invasive plants, and obstructed views of the pond. Several participants lived in communities whose HOA’s Community Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CCRs) require a mowed turf grass shoreline, and they felt that it would be exceedingly difficult to change the CCRs to allow for the installation of vegetated buffers or even alternate mowing schedule zones.

To affect these perceptions, recognizing the weight that the social norm has in the likelihood of retrofitting an existing mowed shoreline or bulkhead to a shoreline with a vegetated buffer, we recommend using messages to highlight their neighbors’ preferences. For example, “Your neighbors prefer a vegetated shoreline over mowed turf to keep the shoreline from eroding, to protect the health of wildlife, and to reduce pond algae.” The message not only needs to overcome this social norm and perceived preference of residents, but it needs to address all barriers. Additional outreach on vegetated shoreline buffers should consider the focus group participants’ perceived benefits and drawbacks of each shoreline option, identified in the table under each image (Figures 7.2 – 7.4).

The aesthetic of the vegetated shoreline buffer was considered acceptable and well-liked by many focus group participants, which suggests that this shoreline option could also be well-received by new homeowners. However, it should be noted that responses were mixed, with participants often providing multiple responses to a single prompt over the course of the conversation. Efforts to encourage vegetated buffer installation have a higher likelihood of success if they are incorporated early in the planning process and installed at the time of construction, before the Transfer of Developer’s Rights. Outreach should target developers or property managers prior to pond construction to ensure these recommendations are incorporated and shared with communities.

Recommendation 5

Messages should stress that stormwater pond maintenance will benefit health of residents, wildlife, the pond ecosystem, and recreational waters.

Secondary messaging should reference recreational activities that depend on clean water in the pond, or in downstream waterways. In a survey completed by residents within close geographic proximity to a restoration site on the West River in Connecticut, a high priority was placed on creating an environment suitable for relaxation and wildlife enjoyment. These priority values were determined to support changes in behavior benefited by restoration activities (Casagrande 1997).

Similarly, focus group participants placed the greatest value on health – of community, of individuals, of wildlife, and of the ecosystem – as priorities for pond maintenance and design performance. This concern for human health and the health of wildlife has been referenced by other researchers as motivation for environmental responsibility and water quality protection (Naselli-Flores 2008). Secondly, participants were concerned about maintaining personal recreation opportunities through cleaner pond water and healthy discharges to recreational waters.

However, this emphasis likely varies by community. For example, in the Mount Pleasant community CCRs reviewed, the majority prohibited use of ponds for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, or swimming.

Recommendation 6

Messages should come from trusted sources; outreach should capitalize on electronic modes of communication.

Finally, focus group participants were asked where they first looked for assistance or resources for pond problems and questions; most commonly mentioned were the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (S.C. DNR), S.C. DHEC, and the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. Participants generally prefer to receive informational resources online. Several dozen agencies, universities, and organizations conduct environmental and natural resource education in coastal S.C. In order for these entities to affect change through consistent recommendations and communication, a stamp or symbol on outreach materials representing scientific, unbiased instruction and educational information could be used to brand outreach information. Participants also indicated that they would like to see additional resources made available, including funding opportunities, specific management recommendations, consistent messages, and a single portal to access information on all the rules and regulations related to stormwater pond management and maintenance. Additionally, information should be available online whenever possible, as per the preference of focus group participants.

Recommended Target Audiences, Topics, and Messages to Improve Stormwater Pond Maintenance

Target Audience: Developers

Communication Emphasis Areas, Actions

  • To Engineers – consider all BMPs. Stormwater ponds are one option, but not the only practice that meets suspended sediment treatment criterion and can appeal to buyers.
  • To Contractors – emphasize careful construction, keeping with design depth and slopes. Engineering plans are the legal depiction of the final product of construction.
  • To HOA or Property Management Companies –
    • Express engineering and treatment objective of stormwater pond with new owners.
    • Provide engineering plans and maintenance requirements at time of Transfer of Developer’s Rights.
    • Explain the Statement of Responsibility Waiver to new owners.
  • Release responsibility intermittently to neighborhood HOA or property management company.
  • Surveyed residents find a vegetated shoreline appealing and more protective than turf. This is oftentimes limited by Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CCRs). Establishing a vegetated buffer after construction and creating the allowance for one in the CCR is of interest to new owner.

Suggested Emphasis Phrases and Topics Toward Achieving Actions

  • Stormwater ponds serve three purposes – water quality treatment, minimal flood prevention, aesthetic.
  • Discharge from pond affects receiving water quality and ecosystem health.
  • Whole neighborhood benefit/whole neighborhood responsibility.

Target Audience: HOA Board and Property Managers

Communication Emphasis Areas, Actions

  • Have available your engineering plans for design depth and slope.
  • Annual inspection should be conducted, and inspection checklists are readily available.
  • Ensure runoff volume can easily flow through infrastructure, and there are no obstructions going into the pond (such as cattails and sediment accumulation).
  • Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions should be modified to allow for a vegetated shoreline, as this is appealing to many owners and protects shoreline from erosion and property loss.
  • Stormwater infrastructure throughout the neighborhood should be maintained. Recommend clean outs of catch basins and removal of debris and sediment that could terminate in the pond, as needed.
  • Budget for 5-7% of construction costs for annual maintenance.
  • Communicate purposes of neighborhood stormwater ponds and basic information about whole neighborhood maintenance responsibility.

Suggested Emphasis Phrases and Topics Toward Achieving Actions

  • Stormwater ponds serve three purposes – water quality treatment, minimal flood prevention, aesthetic.
  • Every resident is integral in pond function.
  • Discharge from pond affects receiving water quality and ecosystem health.
  • Whole neighborhood benefit/whole neighborhood responsibility.

Target Audience: Residents

Communication Emphasis Areas, Actions

  • Your landscape decisions affect stormwater quality and the water quality of your pond.
  • Most South Carolina soils have high or excessive levels of phosphorus. Use of phosphorus-free and slow release fertilizers, and their proper application, will minimize nutrient rich runoff that encourages algal growth.
  • Understand the many purposes of a stormwater pond.
  • Consider a vegetated shoreline for greater bank protection and treatment of runoff. Most of your neighbors find a vegetated shoreline more appealing.
  • Minimize erosion and soil loss to pond by raising the mower deck and allowing grass to grow taller on slopes adjacent to the pond.

Suggested Emphasis Phrases and Topics Toward Achieving Actions

  • Stormwater ponds serve three purposes – water quality treatment, minimal flood prevention, aesthetic – and serve your community.
  • Your community pond is purposed to treat runoff before discharge.
  • Pond maintenance benefits health of water quality and health of wildlife.
  • Minimizing nutrients in runoff (from fertilizer selection and application) can decrease the likelihood of excessive algae growth.
  • Community ponds in S.C. are generally owned by the neighborhood and are the responsibility of all owners.
  • Your neighborhood is tasked with responsibility of maintenance, liable to fines of up to $1000 per day if found non-compliant.
  • Healthy ponds can protect home values.

7.4 Summary

Overall Recommendation

Messages should recognize the multiple concerns, perspectives, and involvement of multiple audiences.

Multiple audiences directly influence the function and performance of stormwater ponds across their design, construction, and post-construction management stages (Figure 7.6). Identifying a consistent message that resonates with each audience will first involve understanding their level of knowledge, concern, and motivation. Understanding audience values, motivations, and concerns can then inform strategies to encourage sustainable behavior change. Education is a key component of any strategy designed to mitigate the negative environmental impacts to, and from, stormwater ponds. The success of ponds as BMPs to manage runoff, protect downstream water quality, and comply with regulations relies on several factors: recognition of ownership, awareness of the pond’s purpose, knowledge of pond function and maintenance needs, and responsible care of surrounding landscapes. These elements must factor into outreach messaging if it is to resonate with target audiences and ultimately protect S.C.’s vital coastal water resources. Arming residents with specific knowledge and tools will go a long way towards ensuring proper pond maintenance is carried out. HOAs want comprehensive instructions on pond maintenance to share with their residents. City and county staff in engineering, public works, and stormwater departments share common concerns, mostly related to practices such as keeping infrastructure and conveyances clear of debris, managing erosion, and preventing flow obstructions from vegetation and sediment build-up (Appendix A7-4). There are both real and perceived barriers to education and outreach. For example, failed attempts to implement widespread use of vegetated buffers are often due to misconceptions about cost and function, and to HOA covenants restricting planting on shorelines.

To promote positive behavioral changes, we recommend that visual campaigns use positive images of healthy ponds that are more likely to motivate homeowners, rather than those depicting algal blooms, stagnation, or other unsightly pond conditions. When discussing major obstacles to pond maintenance, participants cited money, lack of knowledge, and inability to influence or change residential lawn-care behaviors. Outreach messages addressing pond health should be specific, instructive, and connect all community residents’ actions to the performance of the pond. The greatest concerns voiced by residents were related to the health of people, wildlife, and the overall ecosystem. As the culmination of our research efforts, we presented our recommendations to the Stormwater Ponds Research and Management Collaborative for both short-term and long-term outreach strategies to create and disseminate outreach materials to increase awareness, instruct, and involve target audiences in sustainable actions to improve long-term pond management function.

7.5 References

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Casagrande DG (1997) The human component of urban wetland restoration. Yale F&ES Bulletin 100: 254-270

Dietz ME, Abraham J (2011) Stormwater monitoring and resident behavior in a semi-arid region. Journal of Extension 49

Emmons and Olivier Resources (2007) Minnesota Low Impact Development: A Comparison

Fassman E (2011) Stormwater BMP Treatment Performance Variability for Sediment and Heavy Metals. Separation and Purification Technology no. 84:95-103

Mallin M (2000) Effect of human development on bacteriological water quality in coastal watersheds. Ecological Applications 10(4):1047-1056

Mallin MA, Ensign SH, McIver MR, Shank GC, Fowler PK (2001) Demographic, landscape, and meteorological factors controlling the microbial pollution of coastal waters. Hydrobiologia 460(1-3): 185-193

Messersmith MJ (2007) Assessing the coastal hydrology and pollutant removal efficiencies of wet detention ponds in South Carolina. M.S. Thesis, College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C.

McKenzie-Mohr D (2011) Fostering Sustainable Behavior. Canada: New Society Publishers

Naselli-Flores L (2008) “Urban lakes: Ecosystems at risk, worthy of the best care.” In: Sengupta M, Dalwani R (Eds.), Proceedings of Taal 2007 the 12th World Lake Conference, Taal (pp. 1333-1337)

S.C. DHEC (2005) Storm Water Management BMP Handbook. Columbia, S.C.

S.C. DHEC (2012) Nonpoint Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. Permit No. SCR1000000. Columbia, S.C.

Smith E (2012) Nutrient-Organic Matter Dynamics in Stormwater Ponds: Implications for Stormwater Management and the Role of Ponds as Sources of Coastal Water Quality Impairment. Proceedings of the 2012 South Carolina Water Resources Conference, Columbia, S.C., October 10-11, 2012

Swann CP (2000) A survey of nutrient behavior among residents in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Oral. Presented at the National Conference on Tools for Urban Water Resource Management & Protection, Chicago, IL

Weinstein JE, Crawford KD, Garner TR (2008) Chemical and Biological Contamination of Stormwater Detention Pond Sediments in Coastal South Carolina. Final project report. S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and S.C. DHEC-OCRM, Charleston, S.C.

Witte K (1994) Fear control and danger control: A test of the extended parallel process model (EPPM). Communication Monographs 61:113-134