Caitlin McNaughton: Retention Peripheries

Retention Peripheries

Caitlin McNaughton

This project was an effort in retrofitting a retention pond to create a healthier ecosystem and to build more suitable habitat for native wildlife. This effort will be accomplished through cleaning litter around the pond as well as planting appropriate fauna. Ideally, the plants will nourish the area and prevent erosion which leads to sedimentation. In the end, we hope to see improved holding of soils around the pond, healthy plant life, and increased diversity of wildlife. This project required interaction with Ohio Wesleyan University Buildings and Grounds, referencing professionals for information regarding plant species, and financial and planning support from the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) Adopt-a-Pond program. Further results will likely be available Fall 2015.

Methods and Results:

This project’s methods can be broken into 4 steps: it all began with gathering information, then strategizing action, next we will take action, and finally we will follow up and maintain the project.

The information gathering stage primarily consisted of pursuing online research and meeting with others. The majority of the research I collected was related to retention pond structure and function, and previous reports of pond restoration. This information reinforced the importance of this project and confirmed that this project would be conquerable. Resources led me to believe that planting in the pond shallows would be a beneficial; however, we moved away from this idea following meeting with Peter Schantz of OWU B&G.

Mr. Schantz was able to discuss concerns with planting from a maintenance perspective and provided preliminary approval for the continued pursuit of the project. Together we reviewed the pond blueprints. Water from behind Meek Aquatic Center flows into the pond through runoff and through 1 or 2 other large pipes. The pond is fitted with a fountain on the far end, an aerator near the middle, and the outflow pipe at the other end. The pond’s building instructions state that its bottom in 12in of silt clay. Mr. Schantz and inspected the pond and noticed a small, but consistent stream flowing out of the pond. We discussed choosing plants that would not produce excessive leaf litter, to avoid clogging drains and the aerator. We also discussed choosing plants that would not encourage excessive growth in the water. These two points were taken into consideration while choosing plants.

The next meeting held was with Laura Fry and Lisa Daris of the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Kristin Piper of the Delaware County Watershed, and Dr. Krygier. During this meeting, we again inspected the pond and discussed funding. As we inspected the pond’s area, it was noted that the banks were noticeably eroding. Several species were suggested as options to better hold the banks to prevent sedimentation of the pond. Additionally, plants were suggested to hold between the rocks immediately surrounding the pond. The Adopt-a-Pond program provides $600 to pond owners to use in their restoration efforts. The following description of the program is from the Summer 2014 FLOW newsletter:

“Adopt-a-Pond efforts will focus on outreach to pond landowners to help them make simple changes to improve the biology and water quality of local ponds:

  • Eliminate the use of fertilizer and pesticides near their ponds. Excess fertilizer nutrients can cause algae growth, harming stream life.
  • Stop mowing to the edge of the pond to create a vegetative buffer. Buffers help hold soil in place and clean runoff water before it reaches their pond.
  • Plant trees and native plants to encourage wildlife. Native plants prosper in central Ohio soils and provide food and shelter for birds and butterflies”

The next step was to discuss the list of plants provided by FLOW (see Appendix A) with Dr. David Johnson who provided valuable information about each species and suggested a few preferred species. He is open to answering further questions related to this project. Following this meeting more information was gathered about species, especially pertaining to their root systems and seed/reproduction style.

Next, we must choose locations for each species and run those choices by OWU B&G for approval. Then, the plants will be ordered as funded by FLOW and planted. We will likely need to reach out for assistance in planting, and upkeep of the plants. Tools will likely be borrowed from B&G. Then, plants will be watered and otherwise maintained to ensure their continued success and to stop any issues that may arise as early as possible.


This project is still in progress! There may still be time to do things like taking a look at some water under the microscope in the lab or preserving a few samples for further study, as well as testing pH and oxygen levels, but this will require further support and contact with more university staff. As summer begins I’m still waiting to see how much time I’ll be able to carve out around my work schedule for this extra component. I think future work could include more monitoring of the pond’s success or an inventory of species making use of it. I would love to see a few bird boxes go up in the area. Future work might also involve increasing the number of plants and the species around the pond, if the initial plantings are successful.



A. Retention Pond Plants List

B. Pond Photos

Part of pond blueprints

Erosion on the bank

Erosion on the pond bank

Full view of pond

Full view of pond

One Response to Caitlin McNaughton: Retention Peripheries

  1. […] Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, Update 5, Retention Peripheries Final […]

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