City of Jacksonville

City of Jacksonville

Children lying at edge of retention pond and touching water

Retention Pond Safety

June 01, 2020
Educate yourself on the hidden dangers of these critical components of the City's stormwater system

Often surrounded by plants and birds, the picturesque setting of a retention pond is inviting. Many are attracted to the still waters, using it for recreational activities, like swimming, boating, and fishing. However, despite its serene appearance, a retention pond is constantly working, serving an important purpose that makes it unsuitable for play, as well as a potential safety hazard.

These are some of the hidden dangers of rentention ponds:

  • Steep sides and slippery slopes can make it difficult for a person to climb back out if they happen to fall in. Retention ponds can also be deep since they’re designed for maximum rainwater collection.

  • Strong currents after a storm at both inlet and outlet areas of a pond can also pose a danger, especially if protective bars or grating is built to close to the drain. These currents can be strong enough to hold a person pinned against the grating, preventing people who would otherwise be able to swim to safety, from doing so.

  • Sediments, chemicals and pollutants are contained in the runoff and storm water that fills a rention pond. These ponds are actually designed to act as a filtration system before the water moves on into local rivers, lakes and streams. As such,  sediment collected in the depths of these man-made structures can contain heavy metals and contaminates. They can also have toxic algae blooms which can threaten the lives of children and pets or cause serious illness if ingested or placed in direct contact with skin.
  • Drowning risk is much higher for children and is the number one cause of injury death for children ages 1-4.* Open water, which includes man-made bodies of water such as irrigation ditches and retention ponds, has hidden hazards that increase the risk even further. These include debris and vegetation that may impede swimming or induce panic, colder temperatures, difficult to judge distances, limited visibility and more.

‚ÄčEducate yourself on how rentention ponds work to keep our waterways healthy and what you and your loved ones can do to stay safe at

*Source: Hidden Hazards An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children