Ponds versus Environmental Site Design (ESD) or Low Impact Development (LID) Measures – Life or Death

One of the many, many issues associated with the decision to design smaller, shallower ESD / LID measures in lieu of traditionally larger detention, extended detention, or retention ponds is safety. The most horrible thought is that of a child’s life ending because of a design decision. Small landscape features – such as bioretention – integrated into the site design are not drowning hazards because of the minimal depth impounded. On that not-so-happy note, we ran across this collection of news links:

The Columbus Dispatch, 6/8/07: “Fences on retention ponds overdue”
Joe Tinnes recalls that, when he pulled 2-year-old Aubrey Nicole Murphy from a Far East Side pond on Wednesday, her skin was blue and she had no pulse, but her eyes were wide open…

AutismVox, 6/22/07: “The Season for Swimming Safety Starts Now”
…I read about two children who drowned this week… Kaylie Dickerson wandered from her Blaine, MN, home and was found in a retention pool.

Indiana University News Room: “Water Safety”
Retention ponds and construction sites can pose drowning hazards
“Anytime there is gathered water, people, especially children, will be attracted to it,” said Bill Ramos, who oversees aquatic program development in the Department of Recreation and Park Administration in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Retention ponds are designed for water drainage management, not for recreation. The water draining into them may contain a variety of chemicals used in lawn and property maintenance, Ramos said. Retention ponds are designed for maximum capacity, so they may be very deep and have a steep drop at the water’s edge. In construction sites, a heavy rain can fill holes with water and cause water to rush through ditches. Parents need to know where water gathers and discuss these dangers with their children. Communities should make sure that retention ponds are clearly marked with signs prohibiting swimming.

TCPalm, 6/26/02: “Editorial: A child drowns…”
The 23-month-old Amber wandered away with her 4-year-old brother from a house full of family members. The two toddlers were pretty quickly missed. But Amber was found in a nearby retention pond, too late to save her.

The Florida Times-Union, 6/18/06: 5-year-old boy drowns in a retention pond
The boy, Labian White, was dead.

“How many kids have to die because of retention ponds?” White yelled at those who had been drawn by the commotion at the mobile home park on 103rd Street. “They need to put fences up. They need to protect our kids.”

Labian drowned about 11 a.m. Saturday while playing with other children at Woodland Estates mobile home park. Panicking playmates alerted the boy’s family, who raced to the pond to search for the child. His father thrashed through the murky water, finally finding his son, family members said.

By that time, though, Labian was limp and his lips were blue…

“You turn your back for a split second and it’s over,” [his grandmother] said.

FortBendNow, 6/12/06: “2 Young Fort Bend Children Drown In Separate Incidents Sunday”
A sheriff’s investigator was told that Chiedza Nhubu, a mentally disabled 7-year-old girl, had wandered away from her home and was discovered in a nearby retention pond by the girl’s father. “A bystander was walking by during this time and he called Fort Bend County 911,” sheriff’s reports said. “The dispatcher instructed him on how to perform CPR.”

The girl was transported to St. Catherine’s Hospital in Katy, where she was pronounced dead Sunday evening.

Illinois Court Opinions: Mahmoud Mostafa, Naimah Salamah, et al. v. City of Hickory Hills, Hickory Hills Park District, American National Bank and Trust Company, and Asghar Mohsin
Plaintiffs’ decedents, Adel Mostafa, age two, and Amgad Salamah, age three, fell into a manmade lagoon in a public park near a playground and drowned…

The manmade lagoon, assertedly filled with murky water, was located forty-five feet away from the playground…

On November 9, 1993, the two boys left their apartments, allegedly without the knowledge of their families, crossed the street, entered Martin Park, played in the playground until they allegedly spotted a flock of wild geese drinking water at the edge of the lagoon, ran toward the geese, began to chase them, and slipped into the lagoon and drowned…

…in Cope, plaintiff’s decedent, a seven-year-old boy, fell through ice that had gathered on a retention pond, which was partially frozen…

…in Stevens, a seventeen-month-old child fell in a retention pond…prairie grass partially obscured it from view…

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This entry was posted in Land Planning, Landscape Architecture, Stormwater Management, Sustainable Development, SWM Maintenance. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ponds versus Environmental Site Design (ESD) or Low Impact Development (LID) Measures – Life or Death

  1. Gary Belan says:

    This is a horrible problem that isn’t very widely publicised. There are many safety issues with stormwater ponds, which I think makes for a compelling argument to use LID instead. Though I find the listing of child deaths chilling. As people who support LID, we have to be careful not to appear as if we’re resorting to fear tactics.

  2. This is indeed tragic. Fear tactics aren’t necessary, but this news is indeed sobering.

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