Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

Stormwater systems offer water quality and storage benefits year-round

Sept. 9, 2021

Water fountain in a pond

Stormwater systems help store and treat water.

Florida is back in the midst of rainy season, with the average rainfall across the St. Johns River Water Management District at 6.89 inches for August, bringing our region’s total to 52.84 inches for the past 12 months. With all this rain, it’s a good time to call attention to the importance of our neighborhood stormwater systems and ponds.

Many people may think these mad-made ponds/systems were added to community developments to help beautify an area. Many are beautifully landscaped, but of more importance is the functions they serve beyond aesthetics — they help provide storage of stormwater and protect water quality.

Stormwater systems are designed to mimic natural processes by allowing sediments, chemicals, debris and other pollutants that run off roadways and lawns to settle to the bottom of the pond rather than flowing to our natural waterways. Without such a system, untreated stormwater runoff usually flows into the nearest body of water, resulting in excess nutrients in the waterways. Under the right conditions, these excess nutrients help feed algal blooms.

As part of our core missions work, the District’s permitting program ensures that stormwater is managed on developed sites and that new drainage ditches or significant changes to existing ditches are coordinated regionally. The District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue permits to install stormwater systems, with legal responsibility for the systems in residential areas typically passed to a homeowners’ association or property management company. Cities and counties (your local governments) are the primary entities responsible for land use planning, maintaining stormwater systems, implementing a community’s master stormwater plan and completing retrofit projects for areas built prior to the state’s stormwater rules.

It’s up to all of us to protect our water resources. Each of us has an important role to make sure our own lawns and landscapes do not contribute excess nutrients and debris to our neighborhood’s stormwater system or nearby waterways. We can do this by keeping grass clippings and leaves out of the street to ensure the debris does not wash into storm drains, following manufacturer directions when using chemicals and fertilizer, and fertilizing sparingly and only when and where the lawn and landscape show a need.

We invite you to learn more about the importance of stormwater systems and the District’s core missions by visiting our website. We also offer a downloadable fact sheet with background, tips for helping to prevent water pollution and a list to help you choose desirable, low-maintenance plants to aquascape your stormwater pond.

Together, we can manage our shared water resources responsibly and protect our water for the future.

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