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Stormwater Lakes and Ponds
Stormwater lakes and ponds, commonly referred to as BMPs, will not perform as designed if they are not regularly maintained. If a facility's storage capacity is reduced, some downstream flooding will indicate a problem; however, if a facility is not removing sediment and nutrients as originally designed, there may not be any obvious indicators of the problem. A regular maintenance program is the best way to ensure that a lake or pond will consistently perform its water quality improvement functions.
It is important to note that while general maintenance tasks can be outlined, actual maintenance needs vary according to specific site conditions, particularly the following elements:
Landscaping: Certain types of vegetation may require more attention. Consider using native plants to reduce maintenance needs.
Upstream Conditions: Watershed conditions upstream of the facility will affect the amount of sediment and pollutants that must be managed.
Safety: Some tasks can be effectively handled by residents; however, a maintenance program should ensure the safety of anyone carrying out tasks, and often a professional should be hired to do the work.
Technical Expertise: BMPs are stormwater treatment facilities. While many maintenance needs like litter and debris removal are obvious, some problems may not be detectable to the untrained eye.
Financing: A fund should be established to provide for the costs of long-term maintenance needs.
For more information on maintaining BMPs, call 757-382-CITY.
What Causes Fish Kills in Stormwater Ponds?
The City of Chesapeake has over 300 stormwater ponds, some of which have fish living in them. Occasionally, environmental conditions change significantly enough to kill at least some of the fish in a pond. The 3 most common causes of fish kills are:
- Higher than normal tides raise water levels in ditches high enough to allow fish to swim upstream from creeks and rivers into the ponds and become trapped when the tides return to normal.
- Extended periods of high heat combined with high growth rates for algae cause a depletion of oxygen in a pond. Algae blooms are most often triggered by elevated levels of phosphorous and/or nitrogen from lawn fertilizers and animal wastes.
- Contamination of pond water caused by dumping of household chemicals or other toxic materials into storm drains that discharge into the pond.
What do I do if I observe a fish kill in one of Chesapeake’s stormwater ponds?
Call 757-382-CITY (2489) to report it as soon as possible.
How does the City respond to fish kills?
The City’s Call Center will notify Stormwater Technical Services (STS) as soon as they receive a report of a fish kill. STS will coordinate with Stormwater Operations to send out personnel with fish nets, a boat, safety gear, and collection bags & boxes for the recovered fish. While Stormwater Operations crews are recovering the dead fish, STS personnel will check the pond water for any signs of contamination as well as oxygen and pH levels. They will also talk to nearby residents and look for potential pathways the fish could have used to swim into the lake if there have been any recent occurrences of higher than normal tides. Stormwater Operations will place the recovered fish in plastic bags & special boxes that they transport to a contract incinerator facility for disposal.
What can I do to help minimize the risk of having a fish kill in my neighborhood?
- Minimize the use of fertilizers on lawns & gardens. If you must fertilize, follow the application recommendations provided on the fertilizer bag.
- Consider installing a mulching blade on your lawnmower. Mulching grass clippings rather than bagging them keeps soil nutrients on your lawn thereby reducing the need to add fertilizer. Mulching also helps build up the organic content of soil which helps hold water and reduce the need for watering.
- If you must bag grass clippings and leaves, consider composting as an alternative to putting this material on the curb for trash pickup. Compost can be used to improve your lawn and garden soil.
- Scoop up pet wastes in your yard, and when walking your dog around the neighborhood. Dispose of the pet waste in your trash bin.
- Do not dump household chemicals, oil, garden chemicals, etc. into the storm drain. Only rain down the storm drain!
For more information on how to be a good environmental steward, visit our Stormwater Education pages.