Attention to Extended Detention

Attention to Extended Detention

I  must confess that dry extended detention (ED) ponds don’t exactly top my all-time list of favorite stormwater practices, but it is clear they occasionally have a role to play when full runoff reduction and channel protection cannot be achieved in upland areas. Dry ED ponds have been around for four decades and they remain extremely popular in some Bay communities, such as Baltimore County, MD and Fairfax County, VA.

Their persistent popularity is explained by two factors. The first is that dry ED ponds are the cheapest stormwater practice around on a cost per cubic foot treated basis, and the second is that they integrate water quality, channel protection and flood control in a single central facility.

Extended detention (dry pond)

Although these are certainly fine virtues, the reputation of dry ED ponds is tarnished by their mediocre nutrient removal and minimal runoff reduction capability. Indeed, it is doubtful whether dry ED ponds will be used as a stand-alone practice in the future, given the new environmental site design and runoff reduction requirements that are rolling out across the Bay.

The other thing about dry ED ponds is the seldom live up to their name — they frequently get quite soggy and hard to maintain and mow. Over time, they evolve into unintended semi-wetlands, willow thickets or cattail marshes. The frequent bounce in water elevations caused by extended detention favors invasive species that can withstand constant water fluctuation, and the repeated wet/dry cycles in the pond also promotes great mosquito breeding habitat of any stormwater practice (according to a half dozen public health studies).

With this in mind, the Network is inviting comment on a new extended detention pond design specification. As always, there are a number of design issues worth arguing about:

For example, the new spec is clear that ED ponds are only the last element in the roof to stream design sequence, after all opportunities for upland runoff have been exhausted. This generally means that ED ponds will generally only be used to provide the last remaining channel protection storage at most sites (and not as the primary method to meet water quality volume requirements).

An unintended consequence of having smaller ED ponds has been raised by Lise Soukup of the City of Rockville. Quite simply, as the volume of ED is diminished by upstream runoff reduction practices, the diameter of the orifice needed to provide the required detention time becomes vanishingly small. Small orifices are especially prone to chronic clogging. So, if any designers have found an effective way to protect one to two inch pipe diameters, I love to hear about it.

Another area the spec needs some work is updating the “kerplunk” design method used to determine the volume needed for detention time (see Appendix A of the spec). Surely, there is a more elegant design technique out there? Even if there isn’t, we still need a defensible and consistent method to properly deduct the upstream runoff reduction volume from the ED calculations (and possibly increase time of concentration values). Anyone care to tackle this tricky modeling issue?

The new spec also limits the maximum allowable vertical height for extended detention to 5 feet for dry and wet ED design variations, and 2 feet for ED wetlands. The basic premise of this change is to create a more attractive and diverse native plant community in the pond over time.

[download id=”3240″ template=”box”]

Related Posts

Spotlight: A Different Approach to “Fixing” Drainage

Spotlight: A Different Approach to “Fixing” Drainage

Late Fall 2020 Residential stewardship is a hot topic for homeowners to make their own changes and increase stormwater management in their own homes....
Read More
Spotlight: Anacostia River Watershed Smart Integrated Stormwater Management

Spotlight: Anacostia River Watershed Smart Integrated Stormwater Management

Smart BMP Retrofit In light of innovation, this spotlight is for the 3rd place winner for the 2017 Best BMP Retrofit BUBBA, Anacostia River...
Read More
Spotlight on Capital Region Water: The Recipe for Community Engagement Success

Spotlight on Capital Region Water: The Recipe for Community Engagement Success

Caroline Spiccioli This spotlight article is part of a short series featuring some of our past Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award (BUBBA)...
Read More