Stormwater ponds are an essential part of the City of Bonney Lake stormwater collection and conveyance system. They are also the most public and Public Works receives many requests for maintenance throughout the year, primarily mowing and weed control. The following are items that Public Works considers when completing maintenance to a stormwater pond.
What should a pond look like?
Next to being properly designed to store and convey stormwater, landscaping is the most critical component in the proper functioning of the stormwater pond. Historically, many ponds were designed to have mowed grass edges as a form of “sales appeal” for the developer, rather than being landscaped for the long term benefit of the pond. Mowed grass to the water’s edge on all shorelines means the pond is not providing its full ecological value. Unmowed vegetative buffers are essential to long term health of ponds and waterways.
Buffers should also extend into the pond where possible using emergent wetland plants. The most important factor when designing a buffer is to choose the proper vegetation for the slope and soils. The buffer should include a diverse plant community that provides both habitat and aesthetic appeal. The proper buffer will provide both a water quality and wildlife component:
• Water Quality: The proper plant community will prevent shoreline soil erosion (bank slumping) around the pond. It will also prevent herbicides and pesticides from going directly into the pond. Eliminating the need for fertilizers and frequent mowing will reduce the potential for algae blooms.
• Wildlife: A diverse plant community will provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including predatory insects, amphibians and birds which keep mosquito populations in check. Tall native grasses will also discourage Canada Geese from taking over the pond and adjacent lawns.
• Fences: Ponds are generally designed with gentle slopes so if someone falls into the pond, they are able to climb out. In locations were walls or steeper slopes are incorporated into the pond, a safety fence may be added. Many ponds have fences installed to help identify the presence of the facility and indicate in a passive way that they are not swimming or play areas. However, since ponds are intended to be natural areas, like streams or natural ponds, the City avoids use of fences where possible.
Who maintains Bonney Lake’s ponds?
Public stormwater ponds are maintained by City crews. The Stormwater Utility has two fulltime employees responsible for maintaining nearly 129 acres of stormwater ponds. This is in addition to 41 miles of stormwater mains, 2,088 catch basins, 79 miles of swales and ditches and many other pieces of stormwater infrastructure. During the summer months, 6 to 7 temporary employees are hired by the City to assist the full time Stormwater Utility employees.
Regulatory required maintenance is focused primarily on water quality benefits and ensuring that ponds have adequate sediment storage and inlets and outlets are not blocked by plants or debris. At times, these maintenance activities may detract from pond aesthetics, but efforts are made to reduce any such negative impact. Private ponds are maintained by private landowners and inspected by City staff.
Stormwater crews are limited by budget constraints, so resources are focused primarily on functional pond attributes like storage, access, and water quality, and less on pond aesthetics.
How can I help?
The biggest impact homeowners and businesses can have is to prevent pollutants from entering these ponds. Ponds are designed to remove pollutants, but they are not able to remove all pollutants.
In particular, soaps used to wash cars cannot be removed by ponds and actually suspend other pollutants to reduce the effectiveness of ponds. Don’t wash your car in a place that drains into a pond. Using natural yard care practices and limiting the use of chemicals around the home are good measures everyone can take to reduce the source of pollutants, rather than relying on imperfect pond facilities to remove those pollutants.