Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 16, 2002

Thin ice is closer than most parents think ­ holding ponds

By Julie Yurek

Thin ice is usually a concern for parents on local lakes ­ but few may consider this threat right in their own backyards, in the form of holding ponds.

Holding ponds are commonly used to control storm water in the numerous residential developments springing up along Highway 12.

These ponds, which range in depth from three feet or more, are generally located in the midst of young children growing up in the neighborhood.

"It doesn't take much water for kids to drown," commented Montrose Fire Chief Mike Marketon.

Howard Lake, Waverly, and Montrose have about 25 holding ponds combined, said Barry Glienke, engineer at Bolton & Menk, which serves all three cities.

Montrose is experiencing the most growth with residential developments, with Waverly close behind. Howard Lake is expected to be next in line for the quick growth following the Highway 12 corridor.

The best advice for parents is "to tell their children to stay away from them (holding ponds)," Marketon said.

There have not been any problems so far with the ponds, he said.

One rescue was done last year of two children on Fountain Lake, southeast of Montrose. They were on the ice in a canoe, but had fallen into the water, he said.

The two youngsters were thrown a ladder and rope, Marketon said.

The Montrose Fire Department does not have cold water rescue suits. If that equipment is necessary, the department must call out for it, according to the department.

Marketon believes that putting fencing around holding ponds would help keep children away, he said.

"It's not aesthetically pleasing and it's costly," Marketon said as to why fencing is not used.

Fencing the ponds is not a recommendation because if a rescue would be necessary, it would increase the rescue time, said Brad DeWolf, of Bolton & Menk.

"Fencing seems to attract children," DeWolf said. "They are curious and they want to know what's inside."

The average depth of a holding pond is three feet, DeWolf said. Three feet is the minimum that is needed to settle solids and sediments in the pond, DeWolf said.

Some ponds average four feet, commented Waverly Clerk Debbie Ryks.

The depth can vary according to the amount of precipitation throughout the year, DeWolf said.

Holding pond are necessary to gather runoff storm water, which eventually drains into a bigger body of water, which can be a lake, wetland, or ditch, DeWolf said.

The location of holding ponds also varies with the development, he said. It is possible for a pond to be located close to homeowners' backyards, he said.

Holding ponds are typically designed similarly, although each development has different variables, he said.

The sides are sloped gradually down to the pond on a three to one ratio, which means that every three feet, the land is lowered one foot, DeWolf said.

The slope is seeded with grass and wetland vegetation usually grows around the edge of the pond, he said.

The size of a holding pond varies widely, DeWolf said. "It is designed according to how much water is discharged into it."

There is also a 10 foot "bench" all the way around the pond just below the water level before it drops off further, he said.

If someone were to get in the pond, the bench would allow the person to get out, he added.

How many holding ponds a development has depends on many factors, DeWolf said. "There is no rule of thumb as to how many go into a development."

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