When to Use Stormwater Detention Ponds vs. Retention Ponds

Posted On: April 04, 2023

water rippling in pond from pebbling breaking surfaceProperty owners in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, are often responsible for stormwater management. This means you may have to choose between a detention or retention pond when planning your new construction project. These basins sit below ground level and collect stormwater runoff to prevent flooding and erosion.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between detention ponds and retention ponds, along with when each type of stormwater basin is more appropriate. Once you know which is best for your property, you can work with a local stormwater management company to set up the installation process.

Detention Ponds

Detention ponds, or detention basins, typically use a slight slope to divert stormwater runoff into a spacious collection area. There are outlets in the basin that gradually release water until the detention pond is drained. Detention ponds:

  • Are designed to be dry when not in use
  • Do not improve the quality of the stormwater
  • May be hidden under other structures, like parking lots
  • Require a lot of space and work best on large sites
  • Need routine maintenance to remove sediment and debris

Retention Ponds

Retention ponds contain and treat contaminated stormwater to remove pollutants. Unlike detention ponds, they are not meant to drain over time and instead will evaporate or soak into the ground. Retention ponds:

  • May be used as a wildlife habitat
  • Don’t require extra equipment to remove pollutants
  • Are suited to both large and small sites
  • Are considered low-impact on the environment
  • Require less maintenance than detention ponds

Which Stormwater Basin Should You Choose?

Are you still unsure whether to install a detention or retention pond on your property? Here are some takeaways:

  • You should choose a detention pond if you have a large site, don’t require water treatment, and would like the stormwater your basin collects to drain more quickly.
  • You should choose a retention pond if you prefer an environmentally friendly stormwater basin that serves as a natural habitat, removes pollutants from the water it collects, or have a smaller site than a detention pond requires.

A professional stormwater management company can help determine which stormwater basin is right for your property.


iSTORMWATER is a trusted name in stormwater management services for property owners in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Our team has over 20 years of stormwater management experience. We work with various commercial property owners to install detention and retention ponds.

Our team is happy to answer any questions about your stormwater management facilities. In addition to installing your stormwater retention pond or detention pond, we can also perform routine maintenance and inspections. We can build above and belowground facilities for apartment complexes, office buildings, shopping centers, and other commercial sites.

Contact us online or call 443-699-2828 today to schedule detention pond or retention pond installation services. We’re available 24/7 for emergency stormwater services.


Real Results

iStormwater LLC was an excellent choice. They made the process of the Storm water pond repairs seamless. They took charge of the project and got the project approved and passing the inspection. We highly recommend them and would use them again.

Lyonswood HOA

Incredible stormwater management service. The owner John consulted on a property I manage and ended up saving us thousands of dollars in environmental fees from the government. Now, our property is compliant with the EPA and we have a great partner to keep us maintained on storm water regulations over time.

Kelly E.
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