Managing Detention Basins for Healthy Communities

When managed well, detention basins can prevent residential flooding, protect water quality, and contribute to the health of the community.

Detention basins provide protection from flooding by capturing rain water through a series of storm sewers, holding the water for a specifically designed amount of time and then slowly releasing the water into a nearby stream. When managed well, detention basins not only address water quantity issues, but also water quality issues. A naturalized detention basin – one with native plants around the edges instead of the traditional riprap or rocks, can help:

  • Minimize erosion around the edges, therefore not sending excess sediment to the stream
  • Provide habitat for a variety of insects that spend part of their life cycle in the water during which they breakdown debris and provide food for fish, ducks and other aquatic life
  • Provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other pollinators
  • Create an aesthetic amenity for residents to enjoy
Naturalized detention basin
A naturalized detention basin provides habitat for wildlife in and around the water, has stable shorelines and can be an asset to the community.

What About Mosquitos?

A common complaint around detention basins in the summer is mosquitos. Although mosquitos may breed in a detention basin, they also breed in streams, wetlands, pot bottoms, old tires and any container that holds water long enough. Treating detention basins, especially naturalized basins can be harmful to other beneficial insects which can impact the natural system that we are trying to encourage.

Mosquitos are everywhere, and spraying everywhere is not the answer. Following some simple guidelines can be helpful in protecting yourself from annoying mosquito bites.  

  • Prevent mosquitos from reproducing near your home. Don’t allow water to stand in containers on your property for more than a day or two.
  • Keep mosquitos outdoors. Fix holes in window and door screens.
  • Wear clothing that deters mosquitos. Most mosquitos are most active at dawn and dusk. When outside during these times, wear light-colored clothing to make it harder for mosquitos to see you. Wear light-weight long sleeves and pants to further protect yourself.
  • Try out some natural insect repellents, many of these options work well, but you may need to apply them more often than repellents that contain Deet. Essential oils, such as lemon eucalyptus, lavender and citronella, have been shown to repel mosquitos. 
  • Take advantage of plants that can help naturally repel mosquitos like geraniums, marigolds, oregano and lavender.

Spraying detention basins indiscriminately kills mosquitos and beneficial wildlife that we rely on for healthy ecosystems. Follow these steps to help protect you, your family and the environment around you!

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