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SFR Ponds Program




What is stormwater?

In a natural setting such as a forest or meadow, when it rains the water is absorbed into the ground & then taken up by plants & vegetation. Once we start building on these natural areas, they become taken up by hard impervious surfaces like roofs, roads, & parking lots. The natural cycle is then disturbed, creating excess water that can't soak in & runs off of these surfaces. That water is called stormwater runoff. It can carry pollution, as well as overwhelm our natural systems, causing flooding.

What is a stormwater pond?

Stormwater ponds are engineered depressions that temporarily hold stormwater runoff, & promote pollutant removal through sedimentation, before slowly releasing the water. They reduce erosion of nearby creeks and streams that would be inundated with water, and they also reduce flooding by releasing the captured water at a controlled rate. This makes them able to improve both the quantity and quality of our stormwater.

There are 3 main types:

  • Retention
  • Detention
  • Naturalized basin


Detention ponds

Detention ponds should be dry the majority of the time, unless it is soon after a rain event


Retention ponds

Retention ponds have water present year round



Naturalized basin

Naturalized basins have the added benefit of native vegetation which provides support for our ecosystem, as well as aiding in the uptake of water. *Be aware, an overgrown detention pond is NOT a naturalized basin. Naturalized basins are planted or seeded intentionally with beneficial native species*

naturalized 2

Photo courtesy of

*Keep in mind  - Not all detention or retention ponds look like those pictured above. These are just examples to give a general idea of what these structures could look like. 



Maintenance for your detention pond

Maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner- but what maintenance do these ponds need? Check out our "Homewoner's guide to maintenance" below for dry detention ponds to get an idea of:

  • What is my pond's purpose?
  • What should my pond look like?
  • What kind of maintenance does it need?
  • What are some things to look for in an well functioning pond?

(Guide for wet pond maintenance coming soon).


About the SFR Ponds Program

The City recently revised the Ordinance (No. 13486) which addresses how Single Family Residential (SFR) Ponds are to be maintained. Referring to Section 31-314.E, the City is in the process of assessing all SFR Ponds to determine appropriate maintenance procedures.

The Single Family Residential Retention & Detention Pond Maintenance Program (SFR Ponds Program) is an initiative to improve the condition of detention & retention stormwater ponds that are privately owned, improve water quality & educate citizens about stormwater control measures (SCMs).


  • These ponds will be assessed and prioritized by the City for an initial rehabilitation if needed, and/or possible retrofitting for water quality improvements
  • After this initial improvement, the City will take over doing functional maintenance
  • General maintenance will still be the responsibility of the property owner(s) or homeowner's association
  • Applying does not automatically enroll you in the SFR Ponds Program. Acceptance into the program is up to the discretion of the Water Quality Program
  • A newly built single family residential pond must wait two years from date of acceptance by HOA, final stabilization, and closure of permit to apply to the program
  • If property owner(s) withdraw from the Rainwater Management Guide (RMG) required maintenance of their SCM before the property is put into the Program, i.e. before the City officially notifies the Owner(s) that the City’s maintenance will begin, or if they opt out of the program during it- the owner(s) will be subject to the City’s Enforcement Protocols
  • Farm ponds are not stormwater control measures and will not be considered for the program


How does the program work?

  1. The property owner must apply for the program - APPLY HERE. Enrollment is pending Water Quality Program (WQP) staff approval. The home owner will be notified via email if/when the pond is accepted into the program
  2. Once pond is accepted into the program, it will be inspected by WQ professional - easements identified, site assessed (If there is no easement currently established for City staff/contractor to enter the property for maintenance, an easement agreement must be signed)
  3. The property owner(s) must agree to & sign a hold harmless agreement, & easement agreement
  4. A task order will be created specific to the pond's needs
  5. A WQ professional will meet with the contractor on site to go over the repairs needed
  6. Maintenance will be done to get pond in working order if needed
  7. A maintenance schedule will be established for functional maintenance going forward



















Stormwater Division

1250 Market Street, Suite 2100
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 643 - 5877

To report an issue please call 311 at 423-643-6311

Click here to view information on the proposed FEMA Floodplain Map Update

Check Mocassin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant Information for sanitary sewer information

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea