Stormwater Ponds

Stormwater ponds are designed to treat what comes off of streets, driveways, sidewalks. Most of the water bodies were never intended for any purpose other than treating stormwater runoff. Stormwater ponds serve an important function but, depending on their construction, may not live up to the expectation of shimmering blue waters. 

Stormwater and snowmelt were once absorbed by undisturbed trees, vegetation, wetlands and other natural features. However, as communities grew and formerly undisturbed natural space gave way to rooftops, roads and parking lots, stormwater became unable to soak into the ground.

Ponds have become a popular method of managing stormwater runoff. A properly designed pond can hold excess water for up to three weeks, allowing pollutants to settle to the bottom. As water is cleaned by this process, it is slowly released from the pond. 

The process also reduces the rate that water reaches downstream locations, greatly reducing incidences of flooding. In some respects, stormwater ponds have recreated the functions of drained or filled wetlands.
Living Next to a Stormwater Pond
It is important to understand that stormwater ponds and the surrounding buffers are often outside the property lines of nearby homes. About half of the 500 stormwater ponds in Blaine are owned and maintained by the city. The rest of the ponds are privately owned, often by home owners associations. If your property borders a stormwater pond it is important to understand the City of Blaine stormwater pond ordinance. The stormwater pond ordinance includes the following:
  • No alterations to shorelines or vegetation around stormwater ponds shall be allowed unless authorized by the city.
  • Fountains or other circulating devices will not be allowed in stormwater ponds unless authorized by the city.
  • Chemical treatment of stormwater ponds will not be allowed unless authorized by the city.
  • Structures will not be allowed within the stormwater pond or protective buffer zone. This  includes but is not be limited to retaining walls, docks, piers, diving platforms, bridges, etc.
  • Recreational activities, including but not limited to boating, swimming, fishing, and skating are discouraged on all stormwater ponds. Remember this water is not clean, it is a public health risk to be recreating in this water.
  • Dumping of yard waste materials in, on, or around any stormwater pond is prohibited.
  • Cattails growing in and around stormwater ponds may be cut with the permission and direction of the city.

Maintaining Your Pond

Stormwater ponds will always be just that, ponds that clean runoff. Residents can help reduce algae and odors and promote an attractive appearance by taking simple action. Some suggestions include:

  • Buffer strips of plants, shrubs and trees 25 to 50 feet in width around ponds will absorb nutrients, catch sediment, provide habitat and add to the natural effect of ponds.
  • Do not dump household chemicals, automotive chemicals, excess lawn chemicals, or chlorinated swimming pool water into yards or storm drains.
  • Do not over water. Depending on the soil, lawns need only one to two inches of water per week.
  • Include native plants in your landscape. Such plants are acclimated to the natural conditions and produce deep root systems that promote infiltration of runoff.
  • Keep grass clippings and leaves out of ponds. As grass and leaves decompose, they produce phosphorus, the nutrient that promotes algae, which decreases oxygen in water and causes scum and odor. Mulch grass clippings and leaves or bag and dispose of yard waste. Do not blow yard waste materials into the street or down the catch basin. Every storm pipe leads to a body of water that will be negatively impacted by such materials.
  • Mow grass taller, promoting root growth. Plant roots open pore spaces in the soil, allowing more water to soak into the ground.
  • Pick up trash and pet waste before it enters ponds or storm sewers. Keep trash out of the street and use proper disposal containers.
  • Plant a rain garden to slow runoff from roofs, driveways, and yards. This improves lawn health and reduces the amount of runoff needing management to maintain clean lakes. Cities and watershed districts have plans and plant lists available.
  • Turn downspouts onto lawns instead of driveways and sidewalks.
  • Use phosphorous-free fertilizers and apply only the necessary amount of fertilizer. Have soils tested to determine how much and what type of fertilizer to use. What the lawn does not absorb will be washed into storm sewers and ponds.
Stormwater Pond Ordinance

The City of Blaine has a stormwater ordinance that governs how the city manages stormwater ponds. Any changes to the ordinance would need to be approved by the Blaine City Council.

Permit Inspections 
The City of Blaine is required to obtain a permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that mandates stormwater management. An annual schedule of inspection of stormwater related structures has been developed by the engineering and public works departments.
 Inspections ensure these features are working properly and necessary repairs are made promptly. Streets are swept at least twice per year to prevent sediment build up in ponds and storm sewer pipes.
Stormwater Pond Inspections

The City of Blaine is required to inspect every stormwater pond in the city once every five years. During the inspection city staff look for any violations to the stormwater pond ordinance. Any property owners with a violation will receive a letter from the city explaining how they can bring their property into compliance.