What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

2007 News Archive

09/27/2007 | Water Detention and Retention Basins

In compliance with State guidelines for management of stormwater, the Village of Pleasant Prairie has adopted a standard set of practices to manage the volume of stormwater runoff and to improve the quality of the runoff that returns to our natural waterways. In residential development, some of the main tools for stormwater management include: erosion control practices; the installation of storm sewers for all new development; the installation of concrete curb and gutter for new development; and the installation of water detention and retention basins for new development. In May of 1991, the Village adopted an ordinance outlining some of these measures to help achieve the desired results of stormwater management and decreased pollutants in our natural waterways.

One of the main components in the ordinance is the construction and proper maintenance of detention and retention basins. Detention ponds are commonly dry basins. Their purpose is to delay or slow the release of stormwater runoff. Retention ponds are commonly wet basins. Their main purpose is to store stormwater in order to reduce or eliminate its surface discharge and, through particle settlement, reduce pollutant concentrations. The Wisconsin DNR has issued performance standards for development that require that 80% of pollutants be removed from stormwater before it is discharged downstream. This requirement can be accomplished with the construction of a wet retention basin. The design of a basin will depend upon several factors, including: which watershed a particular property naturally drains toward; the characteristics of the particular watershed; and the characteristics of the proposed development for the property.

For each new residential subdivision that has been planned in Pleasant Prairie since 1991, stormwater management basins, either dry (detention) or wet (retention), have been required. The basins (ponds) in each community help residents to meet the State requirements for limiting groundwater runoff pollution. They also help to prevent flooding of surrounding home sites and areas during heavy rain events. The financial responsibility for the planning and construction of the ponds falls on the developer of the subdivision who will directly profit from the improvements made to the land.

Upon satisfaction of certain preset criteria, responsibility for the retention or detention basin(s) is transferred from the developer to a Homeowners Association. The homeowners in the area are then responsible for maintaining the basin (pond) so that it will function as intended. Homeowners Associations of all sizes throughout the Village manage the maintenance of their ponds according to the needs of their specific community. Some perform most of the maintenance themselves; while others contract out for a majority of the related duties, and still others use a combination of the two approaches. In general, maintenance for the ponds includes maintaining the turf appropriately, as to prevent erosion of the surrounding banks, and keeping the ponds in a generally aesthetically pleasing state (see the PDF at the end of this article for maintenance suggestions).

Since the ordinance relating to stormwater management was adopted in 1991, the Village has required that each new residential community manage the financial responsibility associated with their own subdivisionís ponds. The Village Land Division and Development Control Ordinance does not allow property tax dollars to be spent to support new residential development in the Village.

Instead, the Village requires that each new development support itself financially. In short, existing taxpayers will not have to pay for expenses caused by new development within the Village. With this approach, the Village aims to curb the damaging effects of heavy rainfall events and improve the quality of water returned to our communityís waterways without having a negative financial impact on the taxpayer.

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