Healthy Landscapes, Healthy Ponds billboard

Healthy Landscapes, Healthy Ponds billboard

CLEMSON — The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is expanding resources to promote proper stormwater pond management.

Most neighborhoods in South Carolina have a stormwater pond, or several, particularly in residential areas along the coasts or near lakes or rivers. Often a neighborhood focal point adorned with a fountain, these engineered ponds serve to prevent flooding and treat polluted runoff to protect downstream waterways. Neglected ponds, however, lead to poor water quality, aquatic weeds, fish kills, shoreline erosion, nuisance wildlife and other problems.

Research conducted by the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence found that the best way to assure these ponds are properly managed is to give homeowners associations and property managers the tools to make their own well-informed management decisions for these assets.

To make that easier, Clemson Extension and its Carolina Clear program have launched a new mobile-friendly website with a wealth of information on stormwater pond management for homeowners associations (HOAs), community managers, property management companies and waterfront residents. The site includes a diagnostic tool that provides recommendations for fixing and preventing common problems that develop as stormwater ponds age.

Students of the Master Pond Manager course participate in field training.

Students of the Master Pond Manager course participate in field training.
Image Credit: Clemson University

For more advanced instruction on pond management, Clemson Extension, the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence and Clemson Online will offer its fourth Master Pond Manager course March 22 through May 24. Registration is due by March 13 and can be completed online. The course provides pond owners and managers with information and hands-on practice to improve recreational and stormwater pond function while ensuring appropriate management practices are in place to protect downstream waterways.

The program is intended for pond owners, pond management professionals, community staff, stormwater managers, landscapers, contractors, property managers, park staff, planners and developers.

Bob Bundy, real estate agent and property manager with Bundy Appraisal & Management Inc., said participating in the course last year helped him preserve and protect his business assets. His company manages properties with ponds ranging in size from lakes exceeding 100 acres to small ponds that dry up during parts of the year.

“Our company manages more than 30 neighborhoods, as well as commercial complexes in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia. Each project, regardless of size, has some sort of stormwater device,” Bundy said. “While they serve as stormwater management tools, they also provide vistas and recreation areas. I chose to attend this course to better educate myself on how to preserve and protect these assets.”

The course taught him to identify problems such as contamination or disruptive species of animals and vegetation. He also learned proper water-quality sampling tools.

“The knowledge gained has made me a better manager in the area of asset management of ponds and stormwater control structures,” Bundy said. “I never look at a pond, or any body of water, the same as I did before taking the Master Pond Manager course.”

To promote proper stormwater pond management, Carolina Clear erected 21 billboards throughout the state showing a stormwater pond before and after upgrades recommended by Carolina Clear. The organization uses television, radio and internet campaigns, as well, to extend its stormwater educational efforts to a broader audience.

“We have placed a greater emphasis than ever before to promote stormwater pond management solutions through mass media,” said Katie Buckley, director of Carolina Clear and the Center for Watershed Excellence. “Twenty-one billboards promote the message ‘Healthy Landscapes, Healthy Ponds.’ This past year’s commercial runs on television and internet resulted in an estimated 1 million views. We’re hoping that this helps build capacity for greater whole community responsibility and management of these surface waters that are so prevalent in the South Carolina landscape.”

Carolina Clear works alongside more than 35 South Carolina municipalities and counties, as well as several dozen partners, including higher education institutions, state agencies, nonprofits and schools. It offers information and training in rainwater harvesting, rain garden installation, shoreline restoration, stormwater pond management and more.

“While driving across South Carolina, you can just look for one of our billboards to see the difference our stormwater management outreach programs can make,” Buckley said.

The Center for Watershed Excellence includes teams of Clemson professors, Extension agents and collaborating partners who work with local communities to identify watershed issues, develop site-based solutions toward economic and environmental sustainability, procure funding sources, and provide assistance with watershed planning and management support in South Carolina.