Pollutant removal efficacy of three wet detention ponds

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Mallin, M.A., S.H. Ensign, T.L. Wheeler, and D.B. Mayes. 2002. Journal of Environmental Quality 31:654–660.

doi: 10.2134/jeq2002.6540


Monthly inflow and outflow data were collected from three wet detention ponds in Wilmington, North Carolina, for a 29-mo period. Two ponds drained urban areas consisting primarily of residential, mixed services, and retail usage, while the third mainly drained residential and golf course areas. One of the urban ponds achieved significant reductions in total nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium, total phosphorus, orthophosphate, and fecal coliform bacterial counts. This pond was characterized by a high length to width ratio, with most inputs directed into the upper area, and extensive coverage by a diverse community of aquatic macrophyte vegetation. The second urban pond achieved significant reductions in turbidity and fecal coliform bacterial counts, but there were no significant differences between inflowing and outflowing water nutrient concentrations. There were substantial suburban runoff inputs entering the mid- and lower-pond areas that short-circuited pollutant removal contact time. The golf course pond showed significant increases in nitrate, ammonium, total phosphorus, and orthophosphate in the outflow relative to the inflow, probably as a result of course fertilization. However, nutrient concentrations in the outflow water were low compared with discharges from a selection of other area golf courses, possibly a result of the outflow passing through a wooded wetland following pond discharge. To achieve good reduction in a variety of pollutants, wet pond design should include maximizing the contact time of inflowing water with rooted vegetation and organic sediments. This can be achieved through a physical pond design that provides a high length to width ratio, and planting of native macrophyte species.