Proper landscaping on the banks and shallow areas of urban stormwater ponds is critical to the health of our lakes,
rivers, estuariesThe wide lower course of a river where the tide flows in, causing fresh and salt water to mix. and bays. Use of appropriate aquatic
vegetation can halt erosionTo wear away by the action of water, wind, or glacial ice. Removal of vegetation and trees can increase erosion of topsoil. and retard the entry of pollutantsSomething which contaminates (water, the air, etc.) with harmful or poisonous substances.
into stormwater pond water. Not only is the cleaner water necessary to sustain healthy wildlife habitats, but this
cleaner water will eventually end up in our water resources. It just makes sense to stop the pollution at its point of
entry instead of trying to purify the water at the time of withdrawal for human consumption.
This is designed to provide:
Undesirable Aquatic Plants
|Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
The plant resembles a floating open head of lettuce. Large colonies of water lettuce often completely cover quiet
rivers, canals, lakes and ponds, blocking water flow and boat traffic. Dense infestations of water lettuce are known to
provide excellent mosquito breeding habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.. Water lettuce has
minimal wildlife value except for providing a resting area for small fish and aquatic insects.
|Wild taro (Colocasia esculenta)
The wild taro is an exotic plant imported from the Pacific Islands as an ornamental. Its leaves are arrowhead-shaped
withheart-shaped leaf bases. This plant generally grows along the shoreline and can cause problems by shading out native
vegetation. It has limited value to wildlife and fisheries.
|Cattail (Typha spp.)
Cattail are extremely hardy and grow to cover large areas of wetlandsNatural land-use type that is covered by salt water or fresh water for some time period. This land type can be identified by the presence of particular plant species or characteristic conditions.,
lakes and rivers. Cattail are probably the most problematic plant associated with urban lakes. Dense stands of cattail
provide little benefit to a lake’s fishery and provide mosquito breeding sites.
|Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
Water hyacinth is a noxious floating plant. The flower is showy light blue to violet. It is one of the worst weeds
in the world and is now under “maintenance control” in Florida. It is illegal to collect, transport, possess
or cultivate this plant (Rule 62C-52.011 FAC).
Desirable Aquatic Plants
|Cord grass (Spartina bakeri)
Cord grass has 3-6 feet tall culms that grow in large, dense clusters. One of the characteristics of this speciesA taxonomic category subordinate to a genus (or subgenus) and superior to a subspecies or variety, composed of individuals possessing common characters distinguishing them from other categories of individuals of the same taxonomic level.
In taxonomic nomenclature, species are designated by the genus name followed by a Latin or Latinized adjective or noun.
of cord grass is its absence of creeping, scaly rhizomes. The roots of cord grass are an important food source for geese
wintering along the Atlantic coast. The seeds are occasionally eaten by various ducks, and songbirds, but provide the
main diet of the sharp-tailed and seaside sparrows.
|Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)
The leaf of this plant has the shape of an upside-down heart; however, the most striking characteristic is the long
cluster of numerous violet-blue flowers associated with each stem seen during the spring and summer. Growing 3–4
feet tall in shallow water, pickerelweed provides important habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.
for fish, waterfowl and other aquatic animals.
|Soft-stem bulrush (Scirpus validus)
The stems of soft-stem bulrush are cylindrical in cross section, light-green colored, spongy in texture, and 0.8-
1.2 inches wide at the base, gradually tapering to a flower. The seeds are heavily utilized by all species of water fowl
and by many marsh and songbirds.
|Golden canna (Canna flaccida)
The large oval to spear shaped leaves of this perennial are 3 feet long and 2 to 6 inches wide. The showy flowers
are up to 2 inches long and yellow in color. Rare or infrequent in wet ditches, marshes and swamp margins of Florida.
|Duck potato (Sagittaria lancifolia)
Duck potato, also known as common arrowhead, has narrow lance-shaped leaves that grow as a rosette from a horizontal
underground stem. The white flowers of duck potato, seen in the spring and summer months, are on stalks that often
extend 12 inches above the leaves. In addition to its value as important fishery habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.,
the seeds of this plant are consumed by waterfowl.
|Soft rush (Juncus effusus)
The pale-green hollow stems of soft rush are cylindrical, about 1/4 inch in diameter and up to 4 feet tall. Large
clumping stands are common along the edges of freshwater marshes, ponds, lakes and low pasture lands. The seeds are
utilized by waterfowl, while the other vegetative parts are sometimes browsed upon by deer as a late fall to early
winter food item.
10 Steps to Maintaining Stormwater Ponds and Preventing Water Pollution
You may not have waterfront property, but the rain that runs off your roof, lawn and driveway can eventually end up
in the nearest water body. Water enters storm drains along your street, which lead to the nearest lake, pond, river,
stream or bay. By following the ten steps listed below, you can help prevent the pollution of our waterways.
- Easy on the pesticides and herbicides.
Don’t overspray your lawn or garden with pesticides and herbicides, since they may be toxicPoisonous, a substance that reacts with specific cellular components to kill cells.
to wildlife and may contaminate nearby water bodies. Use them sparingly and strictly according to label directions. Seek
nontoxic alternatives whenever possible, and pull weeds by hand.
- Use chemical fertilizers sparingly.
Don’t overuse fertilizers, especially near the water’s edge. Rain and lawn watering washes excess
fertilizers into ponds and other natural water bodies, causing nutrient pollution, which contributes to the overgrowth
- Don’t throw grass clippings into ponds or other water bodies.
If you do not use your clippings for mulch or compost, put them in the trash instead of a storm drain, a swalea shallow depression in the land's surface which may be filled with water. In karst terrain it may indicate an incipient sinkhole forming.
or along the water’s edge. These materials decay and are a source of water quality
- Plant, don’t pave.
Ground cover minimizes runoffThe topographic flow of water from precipitation to stream channels located at lower elevations. Occurs when the infiltration capacity of an area's soil has been exceeded. It also refers to the water leaving an area of drainage. Also called overland flow. and is prettier than concrete.
Consider converting lawns adjacent to ponds to native vegetation, which act as buffers to control runoff and erosionTo wear away by the action of water, wind, or glacial ice. Removal of vegetation and trees can increase erosion of topsoil..
Plants native to the area should be used for landscaping, since they have reduced needs for fertilizers and pesticidesA chemical that kills, controls, drives away, or modifies the behavior of pests..
- Redirect rain runoff from roofs, patios and driveways.
Minimize flow by redirecting runoff to grassed areas or swales where it can infiltrate through the soil and recharge
groundwater levels. Runoff that goes directly into a water body carries leaves, fertilizers, pesticidesA chemical that kills, controls, drives away, or modifies the behavior of pests.,
grass clippings and trash.
- Watering the driveway won’t make it grow.
Save the hose for gardening, not sweeping. Wash your car on the lawn (easy on the soap), which will help filter out
detergents. Use biodegradableAble to be decomposed by microorganisms. detergents with little or
- Storm drains are only for rainwater.
Never pour used motor oil, leaves, lawn clippings or other waste material into storm sewers. Motor oil is extremely toxicPoisonous, a substance that reacts with specific cellular components to kill cells.
to wildlife. Drop off used motor oil at gas stations or garages that recycle.
- Not all plants are bad.
Vegetation around stormwater ponds, including weeds, helps trap and absorb nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce.
and pollutantsSomething which contaminates (water, the air, etc.) with harmful or poisonous substances. that might otherwise contaminate a water body.
“Good” plants growing in the pond can also absorb nutrients that might cause blooms of “bad”
plants, such as hydrilla or algae. “Good” plants also make water bodies
a better place for fishing.
- Add swales and berms to your pondside yard.
A swalea shallow depression in the land's surface which may be filled with water. In karst terrain it may indicate an incipient sinkhole forming. is a small dip in the slope of your yard. It catches
stormwater and filters it through the ground before draining into the pond. A berm is a small hump next to the swale. A
berm helps hold water in a swale until it seeps into the ground.
- Educate your neighbors.
Pass this information on to your friends and neighbors and discuss it with them. Working together, you and your
neighbors can maintain your stormwater pond to improve water quality, provide valuable
wildlife habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives. and an attractive environmentall of the external factors that may act on an organism, either plant or animal, or on a natural community. For example: gravity, air, wind, sunlight, moisture, temperature, soil, and other organisms are some of the environmental factors that may affect the life processes of an organism.
for the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a stormwater pond?
A. A stormwater pond collects and treats stormwater runoffThe topographic flow of water from precipitation to stream channels located at lower elevations. Occurs when the infiltration capacity of an area's soil has been exceeded. It also refers to the water leaving an area of drainage. Also called overland flow.,
which helps to safeguard water qualityA term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose., as well as
providing flood protection.
Q. Why are aquatic plants important for stormwater ponds?
A. Native aquatic plants reduce erosionTo wear away by the action of water, wind, or glacial ice. Removal of vegetation and trees can increase erosion of topsoil.
and utilize excess nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce., helping to maintain water
quality. They also provide habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives. for many types of water
birds, insects and other aquatic animals, including fish.
Q. Where can aquatic plants be obtained?
A. Native aquatic plants can be obtained from many local nurseries.
Q. Who can I contact for additional information?
A. The Southwest Florida Water Management District at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4226, or
your local environmental or stormwater management agency.