Detecting phosphorus release from stormwater ponds to guide management and design

There is growing concern that aging stormwater retention ponds may become net sources of
phosphorus (P) to receiving waters. Release of P previously deposited in sediments (i.e. internal
loading) is a major contributor to eutrophication in lakes. Stormwater ponds often have high
external P loading, and other characteristics that may increase the likelihood of internal loading
as ponds age. However, stormwater ponds have received comparatively little research attention,
even though they are widely used with the intended goal of permanent immobilization of
phosphorus. The ability of these systems to retain phosphorus over their lifespan is essentially
unknown. The proposed research will build understanding necessary to assess the capacity of
stormwater ponds to retain or release phosphorus in Minnesota’s stormwater pond infrastructure.
The projects aim to develop methods for rapid and efficient identification of pond phosphorus
release, to guide management of existing ponds, and to reveal factors that underlie poor
performance for P removal. The results of this project will be used to inform and improve pond
maintenance, pond design and decision making around construction of new ponds, and to
ultimately improve the water quality of our lakes, rivers and wetlands.

Project Staff: 

Project Lead: John Gulliver, PhD; Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo- Engineering
Engineering and St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota (email: gulli003@umn.edu;
phone: 612-625-4080).
Project Team Member: Jacques Finlay, PhD; Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
and St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota (email: jfinlay@umn.edu, phone: 612-624-
4672).
Project Team Member: Ben Janke, PhD; Research Associate, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of
Minnesota (email: janke024@umn.edu).
Project Team Member: Poornima Natarajan, PhD; Research Associate, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory,
University of Minnesota (email: pnataraj@umn.edu).
Project Team Member and Extension Coordinator: Shahram Missaghi, PhD; Stormwater Education
Program, Water Resources Center, University of Minnesota (email: miss0035@umn.edu)

Project Duration: 

January1, 2019 - June 30, 2020