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Stormwater Ponds Research Details Benefits

Oct 8, 2019

The proliferation of stormwater ponds in coastal South Carolina in recent decades has prompted questions about how effective they are at reducing flooding and improving water quality.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and its partners in 2014 brought together scientists in the Stormwater Ponds Research and Management Collaborative and funded several studies on the issue. The results of one of those research projects recently were published in the July 2019 issue of Frontiers in Environmental Science.

A stormwater pond in a housing development on Daniel Island. Photo by Joey Holleman, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

This journal article by Barbara Beckingham, Timothy Callahan, and Vijay Vulava of the College of Charleston summarizes what is known about the effectiveness of these engineered ponds. They found that well-designed ponds that are maintained correctly can help reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality. However, the ideal design changes depending on location, and poorly maintained ponds can harm water quality.

The number of different designs of ponds and the wide variety of management approaches, the article states, “make the overall impact of stormwater ponds on water flow and quality in the southeastern coastal plain difficult to ascertain. … There is a need to integrate engineering, chemical and biological sciences with hydrology to better understand pollution removal capability and to forecast functionality, from the unit-scale to the watershed-scale, under changing hydrologic conditions.”

As so often happens in scientific research, the study answers some questions and raises more. The authors also contributed to Stormwater Ponds in Coastal South Carolina: 2018 State of Knowledge Report, a publication set for release soon. An executive summary of the report is available ahead of the full publication.