When is a lake not just a lake? When it also functions as a storm-water detention basin! A lake that functions as a storm-water detention basin is called a wet retention basin.

When is a lake not just a lake? When it also functions as a storm-water detention basin! A lake that functions as a storm-water detention basin is called a wet retention basin.

Now, what’s so important about detention/retention basins? The big issue is actually the maintenance of detention basins and who is responsible for the different components of the system. As the City Council prepares to address this issue, we need to think about the potential cost to all of us, as taxpaying citizens.

Here’s some background. Throughout our city is a network of detention basins that are a part of our stormwater management system. Our city requires developers to participate in expanding our stormwater system whenever they build a new subdivision. By law, a development must manage the on-site storm water so it leaves the property at the same rate or less than before the development was built. Detention basins provide for the storage and slow release of excess water during a storm. This helps protect our homes and property from water damage.

Here’s where it gets a little murky. Some developers choose to combine an amenity such as a lake with their detention basins. These lakes serve two primary functions: controlling storm water runoff and adding beauty, recreational opportunities and increased value to the homes in the subdivision. This provides a desirable private amenity for the use and enjoyment of the property owners.

Currently, our city provides for the maintenance of all of our city’s detention basins, including those that are combined with private lakes in some of our upscale subdivisions. It is the city’s responsibility to ensure that our stormwater system functions properly, that the basin is able to adequately manage the flow of water and properly release it. As taxpaying citizens, we all share in that responsibility through our taxes.

Recently, a number of homeowners whose subdivisions include these lake/detention basin combinations have approached the City Council, requesting to have the city pay for maintenance of their lake. Over time, lakes fill up with silt and periodically have to be dredged. Dredging is expensive, and doing it – or choosing to let the silt fill in – has no effect on the ability of the basin to control storm water. Dredging simply maintains the amenity for the subdivision.

I am confident that the city will continue to meet its responsibility of maintaining all of our stormwater detention basins, as it has for many years. The question is whether we, the taxpayers, should also have the responsibility of maintaining private lakes. If you have an opinion on this important issue, you should call your city councilman and let them know. Their contact information is available at http://tinyurl.com/bscontact.