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Protecting Ponds & Lakes
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Storm drains carry rain and snowmelt
runoff to neighborhood ponds.

Ponds & Lakes with a Purpose

Have you ever watched water run down the street when it rains?
This water is headed into a storm drain, which carries the rainwater runoff (and snowmelt), directly into your neighborhood pond or lake. The water is not treated or cleaned, so anything that washes into a storm drain ends up in ponds and lakes. "Anything" can include cigarette butts, dog waste, lawn fertilizer, grass clippings, leaves, and salt de-icer.

Why is rainwater collected by storm drains?  Storm drains, along with many of the City's nearly 300 ponds and lakes, are part of the storm water management system.  This system provides two essential services:

  • Flood Reduction: Hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways, sidewalks and roads create a lot of rainwater runoff. To reduce the risk of flooding, this water is collected by storm drains along our streets and diverted into nearby storm water ponds.
  • Water Quality Protection:  Storm water ponds help protect water quality by holding rainwater runoff, which allows sediment and other pollution to settle out before the water is discharged into nearby lakes and rivers.

To learn more about storm water management, click here.

Protect Your Pond
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Shoreline buffer

Take action now to improve the health and appearance of your pond.

Naturalize Your Shoreline
Slow down surface runoff into your pond with a naturalized shoreline. Native plantings reduce erosion, capture pollution, and provide wildlife habitat. A buffer of plants several feet wide along the shore also deters geese from setting up home in your yard. For some water bodies, a buffer zone is required.

A buffer that is 15 or more feet deep provides the best water quality protection, but any depth provides at least some benefit. The simplest way to create a buffer is to just stop mowing along your pond. You can speed up the process by adding plants, and native plants provide the best benefits. For an eroded shoreline, you may want to do some reconstruction. See the “Restore Your Shore” guide from the DNR. Additional information on shoreline buffers can be found on the Blue Thumb website.

Capture Rain at Home
Less storm water runoff from roofs means less pollution gets washed into storm drains and ponds. Reduce runoff by collecting storm water in rain barrels and rain gardens. At minimum, make sure that your downspouts are directed onto your lawn, not your driveway or sidewalk. For more information about rain barrels and rain gardens, click here.

Don't Fertilize Your Pond
Reduce the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients that get washed into your neighborhood storm pond. Sweep up lawn fertilizer from driveways and sidewalks, pick up pet waste (it’s full of nutrients and bacteria), and wash your car on your lawn so that soapy water doesn’t enter storm drains. Also, don’t feed ducks, geese, or fish because, when you do, you are essentially fertilizing a pond.

For more ways to help protect water resources, see the links on the left.

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