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1404 Goodale Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 486-9613
Fax: (614) 486-9614


When it comes to ponds, most people are familiar with either farm ponds used for livestock and watering crops, or recreational ponds for fishing, boating, and swimming.  However, many of the ponds we receive calls about in Franklin County are actually stormwater ponds, and while they may look like any other recreational pond, they function much differently. 

Learn about the differences (and the similarities) between these two types of ponds below and how to develop a successful management program.

Recreational/Farm Ponds (Planning & Design)

First, read this article "So you think you want a pond?"

If you are still interested in building a pond on your property (and reside in Franklin County) it is important to know that local zoning regulations can vary depending on where you live.  Most communities will require a permit (and engineered plans based off current NRCS Standards) for any pond with a surface area larger than 1,000 square feet; in Jefferson, Prairie, and Plain Townships, that threshold is 750 square feet.  And for ponds that are larger than 1-acre (or will create a disturbance area greater than 1-acre), Ohio EPA regulations may also apply.  Always check with your local zoning authority for specific requirements; for those living in unincorporated Franklin County, check out our Pond Planning & Design Resources.  If you have more questions, please contact us directly at 614-486-9613.

Ponds constructed for agricultural use are generally exempt from the above zoning requirements, though you should still follow the NRCS Standards.  And you can still be required to obtain an Ohio EPA NPDES Permit if the construction area disturbs an acre or more (OEPA Fact Sheet).  Again, contact your local zoning authority or SWCD for more information.

Recreational/Farm Ponds (Management)

These types of ponds are generally created by landowners for aesthetic or recreational (fishing/swimming) reasons.  They normally receive less-nutrient loading and water levels tend to stay relatively constant, which reduces potential maintenance issues.  As long as these ponds are built and managed properly, they should have a long 'life' and provide many years of enjoyment.

Some of the resources we find most helpful for these types of ponds can be found below.

Publications and Fact Sheets
General Pond Management
Fish Stocking
Plants (ID, Management, Selection)
Control of Nuisance Plants and Wildlife
FSWCD Service Provider List: Ponds

ODNR Division of Wildlife: Pond Management
ODNR Division of Wildlife: Fish and Wildlife Management
OSU SENR Ponds, Fisheries, and Aquatic Management
OSU Extension: Ohio Pond News Archives
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Native Plants for Stormwater Design 
Ohio Invasive Plants Council

Stormwater Ponds (Management)  

Stormwater ponds are designed and constructed to store and/or treat the stormwater that flushes off of our developed landscapes (including roadways, roofs, and lawns). This helps prevent downstream flooding and keep pollutants from being discharged directly to our lakes, streams and other water bodies. This also means they are accepting high amounts of nutrients, sediment, trash, and other pollutants, which effectively cause the pond to “age” faster and lead to degraded conditions such as low dissolved oxygen, algal blooms, unsightly conditions, and odors. 

Our 'First Flush' video was shot at Crawford Farms; Learn more about the stormwater retrofit project here

Fluctuating water levels can also make it difficult for vegetation to grow or can flush away chemicals intended to prevent or treat problems. Please Note: While herbicides/algaecides are commonly used in recreational pond management, you need to be aware that discharges from stormwater ponds occur with almost every rainfall event which could lead to an illicit discharge and put you in violation of Ohio's Water Quality Standards as defined in Ohio Administrative Code 3745-1-04, and subject to any associated penalties and fines.  Read our fact sheet on Shading Agents (DRAFT) for more information.

Stormwater ponds provide many maintenance challenges, which is why many communities are starting to place newly constructed ponds into their own maintenance program.  However, for older ponds, that responsiblilty falls to the property owners or HOA, which are usually financially unprepared. 

The resources below are meant to assist residents and property managers in understanding their role in protecting water quality and how to develop a successful management program that  maintains the ponds primary function of stormwater management while also improving aesthetics and wildlife habitat.

Publications and Fact Sheets

YouTube recording of Central Ohio Roundtable from May 2022 where we talked about Stormwater Ponds
FSWCD Stormwater Pond Management and Maintenance Brochure
 (for HOAs and residents) 
Frankly Speaking Article on Managing Stormwater Ponds for Water Quality and Wildlife (2017)
General SW Pond Management Guides
SW Pond Plants (ID, Management, Selection)
Control of Nuisance Plants and Wildlife

Franklin County Drainage Engineer: Stormwater Resources
Columbus Stormwater Drainage Manual
Ohio EPA Construction General Permit
Rainwater and Land Development Manual
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Native Plants for Stormwater Design