Detecting phosphorus release from stormwater ponds to guide management and design

Principal Investigator(s):

John Gulliver, Professor Emeritus, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


Project summary:

There is growing concern that aging stormwater retention ponds may become net sources of phosphorus (P) to receiving waters. Release of P previously deposited in sediments (i.e. internal loading) is a major contributor to eutrophication in lakes. Stormwater ponds often have high external P loading, and other characteristics that may increase the likelihood of internal loading as ponds age. However, stormwater ponds have received comparatively little research attention, even though they are widely used with the intended goal of permanent immobilization of phosphorus. The ability of these systems to retain phosphorus over their lifespan is essentially unknown. This research will build understanding necessary to assess the capacity of stormwater ponds to retain or release phosphorus in Minnesota's stormwater pond infrastructure. The projects aim to develop methods for rapid and efficient identification of pond phosphorus release, to guide management of existing ponds, and to reveal factors that underlie poor performance for P removal. The results of this project will be used to inform and improve pond maintenance, pond design and decision making around construction of new ponds, and to ultimately improve the water quality of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2019051
  • Start date: 01/2019
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy