What Is a Retention Pond?What is a Retention Pond?

Retention ponds help to prevent nearby homes and community spaces from flooding. They also bring a beautiful aesthetic to a home or subdivision.

They become more necessary as populations increase and communities grow. Any stormwater runoff would normally soak into the ground in a natural environment. However, concrete, and other hard surfaces, such as a parking lot, cause stormwater runoff to flow into other areas or bodies of water. These ponds are a solution to significant stormwater runoff issues, such as flooding and pollution.

Another significant benefit is an increase in property values. Retention ponds can increase a rural home's property by up to 15%.

What Does a Retention Pond Do?
A retention pond gives stormwater runoff a place to go. The primary function is to settle the solids and sediments in stormwater runoff. They also hold water back from flowing into other areas. They hold a pool of water year-round, which keeps sediments in place at the bottom of the pond, so they do not resurface and spread.

Retention Ponds vs. Detention Ponds
Retention ponds and detention ponds vary greatly, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Retention ponds are known as wet ponds because they hold a permanent pool of water all year. Detention ponds are known as dry ponds because they collect water and release it slowly through a drainage system.

The detention basin is dry when stormwater is not present.

Retention Pond Types and Locations
Many types exist in a variety of areas, including the following:

Retention Ponds in Subdivisions
You will often find them in subdivisions because these areas are full of roads, concrete, and homes. These ponds give stormwater a safe place to go. They prevent flooding and increase water quality in the community.

Retention Pond in the Backyard
When in the backyard, they serve a similar purpose to one in a subdivision. It stores stormwater runoff to protect your home from flooding and erosion.

Retention Ponds in HOA Communities
HOA communities use them to prevent erosion damage and flooding caused by stormwater runoff. As a result, they can save the community from expensive repairs and flood damage.

They can also be a significant expense and liability. They need planning, installation of storm drains, maintenance, and they can be drowning hazards.

Detention Pond Near a House
Detention ponds are like retention ponds, but they do not hold a pool of water year-round. The system features a large basin for water to accumulate before it slowly drains through an exit area at the bottom. Having one can increase a home's value by 15%.

Underground Retention Pond
Underground retention ponds offer solutions to the problems above-ground retention ponds may cause, such as growing mosquito populations and drowning hazards. Underground retention ponds require the installation of an underground tank and drainage system. These underground ponds can be especially useful in areas with limited space.

Retention Pond Pros and Cons
The decision to create one on your property can be difficult. There is no simple answer to whether having a retention basin on your property is good or bad. However, some homeowners will see the advantages outweighing the disadvantages and vice versa.


  • They are simple when space is available.
  • They are effective in managing stormwater without costly equipment.
  • They help reduce the risk of flooding and pollution due to stormwater flooding.
  • They create new habitats for local wildlife.
  • They help improve water quality.
  • Large ponds can be used recreationally.
  • They may improve your home value by 15%, as they can be an aesthetically pleasing water feature while also preventing flooding.


  • They can be a drowning hazard.
  • You will need a lot of free space to create one.
  • They need to be maintained, or they can become clogged or cause harm to water quality.
  • They attract nuisance weeds and mosquitos.
  • Costly repairs can occur when they are not maintained.
  • They can attract unwanted wildlife, like alligators and territorial swans.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Retention Pond?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average cost for a retention pond is between $.50 and $1 per cubic foot. Dry detention ponds average $.30 per cubic foot. Additional costs include design services, permits, and regular maintenance.

What Maintenance Do Retention Ponds Need?
Retention ponds need maintenance to function correctly. Debris and sediment must not clog pipes. To prevent clogging, remove debris from the pond before it causes an issue in the piping.

Owners must also check for erosion along the banks of the pond. Maintaining the vegetation surrounding the pond can improve aesthetics.

Is it Legal to Fish Retention Ponds?
Yes. It is legal to fish in ponds that are not on public property. You may need a fishing license depending on the city, county, or state where you live.

However, these ponds collect stormwater and runoff, which can contain toxins and heavy metals. Do not eat the fish you catch!

Fishing in retention ponds is illegal in many areas of the country. Familiarize yourself with local legislation before fishing a wet pond.

How Deep is a Retention Pond?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, retention pond water depth generally ranges between 3 and 9 feet. Depth should not be more than 20 feet.

Are Retention Ponds Safe for Swimming?
No. Stormwater ponds are not safe for swimming. They can be home to dangers, like alligators, toxic algae, and more. They may also experience strong currents after a storm.

Who Owns Retention Ponds?
They are owned by individual homeowners, HOA communities, local governments, businesses, and more. The owner is whoever owns the land where it resides, and the owner is responsible for maintenance. Adding one of these ponds to your property could be a valuable tool to protect your home from flood damage.

Hope that helps!

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