By Brad Stager
Waterfront living in Florida may conjure up images of beachside condominiums or estates, but it can also mean residing in a single-family tract home with a stormwater pond view.
Stormwater ponds are one of the most common features of the local area, and while a nicely designed waterscape can be pleasing to look at, they serve practical functions that help keep developed areas habitable.
This is done by providing a way to manage excess amounts of rainwater and avoid flooding of roads and neighborhoods.
The ponds are especially important because development typically involves replacing large areas of porous soil that would normally allow for absorption of rain into the ground. The loss of other terrain features such as vegetation, creeks and natural ponds also affects what happens on the ground when the clouds open up and unleash great volumes of rainwater.
Besides managing the flow of excess water, the ponds also provide a way to filter pollutants such as pesticides and petroleum products from the rainfall runoff before it is discharged to the natural environment.
According to Paula Staples, public education program coordinator with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hillsborough County, the man-made water bodies don’t take care of themselves.
“Just as your yard needs a scheduled maintenance plan, so do the ponds in your community,” she wrote in an email, adding that what residents do to their own property has an effect on the aquatic health of neighborhood ponds.
“Preventing the chemicals applied to your yard from washing away will help keep community ponds healthier.”
The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) regulates stormwater ponds in Hillsborough County, but responsibility for maintaining them generally rests with entities such as property owners or community associations.
Assistance with issues like water quality or bank erosion is available commercially, but there are also resources such as workshops through UF/IFAS and SWFWMD as well as other organizations and agencies.
Hillsborough County even has an Adopt-A-Pond program to assist with stormwater pond upkeep, though it has some restrictions.
You can learn more about stormwater ponds by visiting the SWFWMD website at swfwmd.state.fl.us.