Anytime you see new construction and new development in Western Colorado, chances are you'll see a detention pond somewhere nearby. What purpose does a detention pond serve, and why is Western Colorado seeing so many of them?

According to Newton Ask A Scientist, the definition of a detention pond is as follows:

A detention pond is a low lying area that is designed to temporarily hold a set amount of water while slowly draining to another location. They are more or less around for flood control when large amounts of rain could cause flash flooding if not dealt with properly."

Driving around Western Colorado, you'll notice grassy areas, typically with rock at the bottom, which are dry most any day of the year. During a moderate to heavy rain, water from the surrounding area, namely streets or parking lots, is directed into the ponds.

Arlie Jordan

The ponds sometimes fill to a high level, as would be the case with a heavy rain. These ponds are designed to drain fairly rapidly. Even after heavy rain, a detention pond reverts to its normal empty state within a day or two.

What are the benefits of a detention pond? According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, storm water detention basins reduce how fast runoff enters the natural waterways.

This protects areas downstream from flooding and erosion. Most detention ponds also function to trap pollutants in runoff such as nutrients, metals, and sediments."

When you see new construction, for example, the new Maverick station on Orchard Mesa, you'll note a small detention pond and culvert located behind the building.

So, why are there so many of these ponds showing up in Western Colorado?

With the increase in paved surfaces, including streets and parking lots, there is a decrease in the amount of exposed ground capable of absorbing water. As a result, it becomes necessary to direct the water to an area where it can be absorbed into the ground.