Stormwater Pond Maintenance, and Wetland Management for Phosphorus Retention


Ben Janke, Poornima Natarajan, John Gulliver, Jacques Finlay

June 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-25

Reduction in phosphorus is critical because phosphate, a dissolved form of phosphorus, sustains algal and cyanobacteria growth and causes a wide range of water-quality impairments in the ponds and downstream waters including algal blooms, excess floating plants, taste, and odor problems. Many stormwater ponds and wetlands that treat stormwater appear to be less effective than expected or originally intended in phosphorus retention, a key function of these ponds in urban environments. There is evidence that many old ponds are releasing phosphorus from bottom sediments at high rates and likely exporting phosphorus to downstream surface water bodies. A major outcome of this project is a pond Assessment Tool to assess the risk of high phosphorus concentrations in ponds and sediment release of phosphorus. The tool is based on 20 ponds with detailed water quality and phosphorus release measurements and a meta-analysis of 230 ponds in the Twin Cities metro area. Other outcomes included a working definition of a constructed stormwater pond and a wetland treating stormwater in the framework of water-body regulations, the development of recommendations for stormwater pond maintenance and wetland management, and an update to the sections on the constructed stormwater ponds section of the 2009 Stormwater Maintenance BMP Guide.

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