By Deborah Goonan
Retention ponds are a very common feature of today’s densely populated planned communities. In nearly all cases, there is a homeowners’ association (HOA) that is administratively and financially responsible to maintain the entire storm water drainage system for the community, including the ponds.
Before the proliferation of these Association-Governed Residential Communities (AGRCs), local governments assumed responsibility for making sure that storm water systems functioned properly, in order to prevent flooding and downstream contamination. The local government usually employed experts such as civil engineers or hydrologists to design proper drainage systems and plan for their long-term maintenance. These services were funded with property tax dollars, at no additional out-of-pocket cost to homeowners.
But private communities with volunteer Boards rarely understand the complexities of storm drainage and flood control. Associations often lack a comprehensive maintenance plan and adequate funding to carry out proper operation over the years. That’s because when the subdivision is new, the Developer usually neglects funding a long-term reserve account specifically for maintenance of the storm water system. The Developer is usually long gone before components start to show signs of wear and tear, which can start to occur after about a decade. Additionally, the more homes that are constructed in the area, the greater the volume of hard surfaces and water runoff. That puts greater stress on the system. The longer maintenance is deferred, the greater the chances for malfunction of the system, which often results in flooding.
That’s exactly what is happening to homeowners in the Fairways HOA in Brunswick. Several homeowners have experienced basement flooding caused by overflow from their retention ponds. Now they are learning that the City of Brunswick will not cover the cost of repairs – the homeowners must pay out of their own pockets, over and above their current property taxes and HOA assessments. Projected costs are at least $3,800 per deeded property.
Homeowners have asked the City for assistance in determining their options, projected costs, and possible alternative sources of funding. The City may be able to arrange a loan for the homeowners.
You can read more about it, and see the video linked below.
What are Retention Ponds?
Retention Ponds are required by local water management agencies, as a method of collecting and holding storm water run off to prevent flooding and downstream pollution of creeks, rivers, natural lakes, bays, estuaries, and navigable waters. If you look closely, you will often notice, along pond embankments, large storm pipes leading directly from catch basins in the street. When it rains, or when snow thaws, water from roads and from adjacent lots flows directly into these ponds, carrying dirt, gravel, road salts, oils, lawn fertilizers and general debris along with it. Contaminants slowly sink to the bottom of the pond, so that overflow from the top of the pond is relatively less polluted as it makes it way downstream. When water remains in the basin, lots adjacent to the pond are often marketed as a desirable “lake view” properties. Some retention ponds are designed to dry out completely between major rain events, serving as temporary catch basins for storm water.
Source article, video: ABC NewsNet5 Cleveland