Do Detention Ponds Really Work? a conversation with Doug Buch from PaveDrain

“We’re pumping water out of the groundwater like it’s never going to run out. And nowhere do we talk about replenishing that groundwater and putting it back down below,” shares Doug Buch, owner and president of PaveDrain. With the focus on green infrastructure, many developers are turning to stormwater detention ponds without fully understanding the long term risks to the environment. Today, Doug joins host Ty to discuss the issues caused by stormwater detention ponds and the value of letting nature do its job of filtering water like it has been forever. 

One of the biggest problems in civil engineering today is people’s tendency to choose the cheapest solution to stormwater management and then later need everything re-done. When people use less expensive materials and cut corners, there tends to be more issues to fix down the road. Often the more expensive solution is more economical in the long run. Nowadays there is a big push on creating stormwater detention ponds as an easy solution to stormwater management. However, just because it is relatively easy to catch all this water and form a bunch of ponds does not mean it is the ideal solution. There are thousands of ponds now and all the stormwater is being directed there instead of having a chance to re-enter the water cycle underground. Meanwhile, people continue to use groundwater as if there is an infinite supply, which there won’t be if we don’t ever replace it with the stormwater from the sky. Nature has been filtering water forever through gravity, and we are preventing nature from doing its job effectively by routing all the stormwater to these ponds. 

Stormwater detention ponds get in the way of Mother Nature’s ability to do her job filtering stormwater and returning it from the ground back into the ecosystem. Tune into Stormwater World for a conversation with Doug Burch about the myths surrounding the efficacy of detention ponds. Learn alternatives for stormwater management and the pros and cons of continuing to create these man made ponds. 



  • “We’re pumping water out of the groundwater like it’s never going to run out. And nowhere do we talk about replenishing that groundwater and putting it back down below.” (27:05-27:15 | Doug)
  • “There’s got to be a balance between d*** ponds everywhere we go versus us.” (27:43-27:52 | Doug)
  • “This is a cool technology. We pulled up a couple of blocks that had been installed for a long time, and we pounded a stainless steel rod down there with a float valve. But it’s got a perforated stainless steel rod with a float valve built into it. Hooked it up to a solar powered battery pack on top of those look alike pay drain blocks, sent that signal up to a post up on top of a rooftop and sent that signal to a computer that showed how much water was being captured and caught and how long it was taking to drain. That’s a simplistic way of doing it, but you got a beautiful thing.” (40:57-41:34 | Doug)
  • “They have proven out that a lot of models are not off by a little, sometimes they’re off by a lot.” (45:49-45:56 | Doug)
  • “Sometimes the most expensive thing is also the most economical thing you can do.” (49:00-49:05 | Doug) 

The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.

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