patio chairs looking out on to a stormwater pond

Stormwater Ponds- More Than Pretty to Look At

Stormwater ponds are attractive enhancements to many residential communities and businesses within the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) boundary. But more than pretty to look at, these waterbodies serve an important public safety purpose as they are part of the overall flood control system for the neighborhood.

In our area, flood control is a shared responsibility. Achieved through an interconnected 3-tiered system, each of the 3 groups must work together and coordinate efforts for effective flood control. The flood control process begins with the neighborhood’s stormwater pond. When the pond water rises in response to rainfall the excess stormwater will flow through underground pipes to the next link in the flood control chain – the LWDD canals. LWDD canals move excess water to the larger-capacity regional flood control system operated by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) where the excess stormwater can be channeled to storage areas or coastal discharge points.

When the neighborhood pond discharges water to LWDD, it does so through a discharge control structure. Regardless of the design of the control structure, or if the structure is in an open or closed position, excess stormwater will continuously drain from the pond until the proper water elevation is achieved.
The LWDD is unique in that we are the only drainage district authorized by the SFWMD to coordinate the opening of operable control structures with residential communities. This authorization may be given before a weather event to increase capacity in a stormwater pond. Authorization may also be given after a storm to help alleviate street flooding for emergency response vehicles. LWDD works closely with property managers and community boards to manage potential flooding. However, residents should note that after a rain event some standing water in roads, sidewalks, yards and other low-lying areas is normal and required to keep flood water away from homes.

Stormwater ponds can be valuable landscape enhancements. Plantings around the pond can provide natural habitat for wildlife and some ponds are designed with fountains and lighting. But as beautiful as your pond may be, its function is to help protect your home from flooding. You can learn more about stormwater ponds and community flood control at


Drain and Cover: Mosquito Control

The Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) does not treat its canals for mosquitos and other insects. However, there are actions homeowners can take to help keep their backyards from becoming breeding grounds. Remember two words, drain and cover.


  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other containers where rainwater has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that are not being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once to twice a week. Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and keep appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
  • Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.


  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people working in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Cover doors and windows with screens and repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

For more information or to report mosquito activity in your neighborhood visit Palm Beach County Mosquito Control at


There Is No Poop Fairy

Pet waste is seemingly a small source of pollution but over time it can add up to big problems for water quality in stormwater ponds, canals, lakes and streams. Pet waste will not just decompose and go away. Instead, it adds harmful bacteria and nutrients to local waters when it is not disposed of properly.

Unlike wild animals that consume resources from their ecosystem, pets are fed commercially produced foods designed to give them a complete and healthy diet. Because pet food is extremely nutrient rich, pet waste contains high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. When it rains, pet waste dissolves and can flow into stormwater management systems contributing to water pollution that can degrade water quality.

The waste causes excess nutrients which contribute to algae and nuisance aquatic weed growth, causing low oxygen in the water that can affect the aquatic environment. Nutrient pollution can also cause the waters to become cloudy making it unattractive for property owners. In urban areas, pet waste and fertilizers are among the top sources of nutrients in stormwater ponds.

If not disposed of properly, pet waste not only affects water quality, but public health. The pathogens like bacteria, parasites and viruses found in pet waste can make people ill. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the average dog excretes between 0.5 and 0.75 pounds of waste per day. One gram of dog waste contains about 23 million coliform bacteria, nearly twice the amount found in the equivalent amount of human waste. It is hard to believe that our furry friends can cause so much trouble.

Remember, there is no Poop Fairy, it is up to you, the pet owner, to help keep pollutants out of local waterways.

White bird by a stormwater pond

Your Stormwater Pond Questions Answered

Whether you are a long-time resident or you’re new to the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) boundary, you may have noticed the many stormwater ponds that dot the landscape. While the State of Florida boasts thousands of waterways, stormwater ponds are man-made water bodies that some may mistake for natural waterways. The following are questions frequently asked by residents about the function and maintenance of stormwater ponds in their neighborhood.

 Q:  What are stormwater ponds and why do we need them?
A:  A stormwater pond is designed to collect and manage runoff from rainwater. When rainwater lands on rooftops, parking lots, streets, driveways and other hard surfaces, the rainfall that does not soak into the ground (stormwater runoff) flows into your neighborhood stormwater pond through grates, pipes or swales. Since 1970, stormwater ponds have been required for most new developments and are specifically designed to help prevent flooding and remove pollutants from the water. Without these ponds, stormwater would carry pollutants like litter, motor oil, gasoline, fertilizers, pesticides, pet wastes, sediments and anything else that can float, into nearby canals, streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries or the ocean.

 Q:  What are the different types of stormwater ponds?

A:  There are 2 common types of stormwater ponds, wet and dry.

  1. A retention or dry pond has an orifice level at the bottom of the basin and does not have a permanent pool of water. All the water runs out between storms, and it usually remains dry when it is not raining.
  2. Wet detention systems (ponds) are the most recognizable stormwater systems. They are designed to allow material to settle and nutrients to be absorbed. After a storm, water drains from a pond through a pipe in the discharge control structure. Part of the pond — known as the permanent pool — is always below the level of the discharge control structure. Sometimes aquatic vegetation is planted around the pond’s perimeter to help filter sediment in stormwater runoff.

Q:  Who is responsible for maintenance of the stormwater ponds in my neighborhood?
A:  In our area, the responsibility for permitting the design and construction of most stormwater systems rests with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). After developers complete construction of permitted systems in residential areas, the permit and the legal responsibility for maintaining these systems are typically passed on to a homeowners or condominium owners association. It is then that the upkeep and maintenance of the system becomes the responsibility of the association. The association is responsible for labor and expenses for keeping the system functional and operating as it was designed. Just like other infrastructure within the community, this responsibility is shared by every property owner in the neighborhood, even if they do not live adjacent to a stormwater pond, as everyone’s stormwater flows into the system.

Q:  How often should detention ponds receive maintenance?

A:  There are several retention pond maintenance tasks to stay on top of. The following is a list of the most important routine measures you should take to prevent more significant problems and keep your pond in good working condition.

  • Inspections: Stormwater pond inspections including pipe interconnections between ponds should be performed as part of an overall maintenance program. Depending on the size of the property, they should be inspected quarterly and within 24 hours of a major storm event. Look for and repair items like obstructions in the discharge control structures, trash accumulation, erosion, and sedimentation.
  • Vegetation management: Monthly mowing helps prevent erosion and maintains pleasing aesthetics around the stormwater pond. Property owners should minimize fertilizer and pesticide use to avoid downstream pollution.
  • Sediment removal: Check the amount of accumulated sediment from the bottom of the discharge control structure to ensure there is a free flow of water. Also, accumulated sediment should be removed from the pond if it has decreased the pond’s design depth by approximately more than 25%.
  • Structural repair and replacement:  Eventually, the structural components like pipes, control structures, banks and side slopes of a stormwater pond will need to be repaired or replaced. A stormwater professional service provider can help you determine when this is necessary. Many providers can be found through an online search or phone directory.

Q: Is it ok to use stormwater ponds for recreational purposes such as swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding?
A:  Recreational use of stormwater ponds may be hazardous and is not recommended. Stormwater ponds are designed to capture and retain stormwater runoff, which may contain many different types of pollution including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides and pathogens. Additionally, the vegetation around a stormwater pond may hide dangerous wildlife like rodents, snakes and alligators. Young children, elderly individuals and pets should never be left unattended near a pond for fear of drowning or interaction with dangerous wildlife.

Q:  Is it legal to fish stormwater ponds in Florida?

A:  It is legally acceptable to fish in these bodies of water under the right conditions. The fisherman must have a freshwater fishing license granted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at and you cannot be trespassing on private property.

Q:  What can property owners do to help prevent pollution in stormwater ponds?
A:  Do not dump excess oils and other chemicals from your home, or yard waste like grass clippings, into stormwater ponds of associated drains. Be mindful of applying fertilizers and pesticides near ponds as rain and irrigation may wash these contaminants into adjacent water bodies. Also, be sure to clean up pet waste so nutrients and bacteria do not wash into these water bodies.

Q:  Where can I find more information about stormwater ponds in my neighborhood?

A:  Contact the Lake Worth Drainage District at 561-498-5363 or visit our website at for more information, printable resources and videos on the topic. To obtain a copy of your stormwater pond’s design and drainage system contact the South Florida Water Management District at 561-686-8800 or visit their online permit search at

standing around a street drain

Be Proactive With Drainage

Come rain or shine, the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) oversees the operation and maintenance of approximately 500 miles of canals. Throughout the year LWDD operates 20 major water control structures in order to release or hold back water depending on conditions. However, effective flood control takes more than just LWDD. Property owners also have a role to play in the overall flood control system.

In South Florida, flood control is a shared responsibility and is achieved through an interconnected, three-tiered drainage system. This three-tiered system is made up of tertiary or neighborhood drainage systems operated by property owners or residential associations. Secondary drainage systems are operated by LWDD, county or municipalities, and the primary system operated by regional water management entities like the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

The role of property owners and residential associations is like LWDD in that they manage stormwater within their property boundary. They achieve this with the use of swales and stormwater ponds. The swales and ponds provide both water quality and flood control functions. Property owners and residential associations must maintain their drainage infrastructure to ensure that swales, catch basins, underground pipes and discharge control structures are working as designed.

South Florida’s dry season runs from approximately October to May. This time of the year is ideal to conduct inspections of drainage infrastructure and make any necessary repairs. Additionally, January and April are when many residential boards hold elections and may change property management companies. LWDD requires that these changes be provided to us as soon as possible. This will ensure the correct individuals are receiving important weather alerts and flood control instructions.

As leaders in your community, do not be caught off guard with drainage failures. Be proactive during this dry season to ensure that your infrastructure is ready for the coming rains. For more information and to submit your contact information, visit