Nearly 50 years of pond debris, water to be drained

Draining is part of five year plan to empty all detention ponds in Pullman



Eric Slocum, plant services manager, displays a map that showcases the detention ponds and where the water comes from Wednesday inside the Markley Services Building.

KYLE MOEN, Evergreen reporter

The Valley Road Stormwater Detention Pond is set to be drained in an effort to clean the pond and keep it more maintained.

The pond, which has been around since 1969, is in need of drainage. This project is part of a five-year plan to clean out all detention ponds in Pullman and keep them better maintained than they previously have been, Eric Slocum, WSU plant services manager, said.

The main usage of these ponds is to clean water runoff from various places around the city. Over the years Valley Road Pond has become full of a large amount of silt and debris. This has made it hard for the water to get cleaned at the rate it once did and is causing the pond to overflow and flood areas around it.

The pond, which was originally 5 feet deep, is now 2.5 to 3 feet deep because of the extra debris, Slocum said.

“[There are] 49 years of silt and vegetation in the pond,” he said. “[The] plan is get them back to [their] original area.”

The pond drainage project, which is currently in the fourth year of a five-year plan, will allow the WSU Plant Services Ground Maintenance Team and Heavy Equipment Team to get into the pond and clean out all the silt. The work on this pond alone could take two years, Slocum said.

He also said it will take one year to dig out all the silt and let it dry, and another to landscape the area near the pond.

“[Our plan] is to drain out the ponds completely to get rid of the debris and then refill them,” Slocum said.

Once the ponds are drained and cleaned, the Plant Services team plans to put a piping system into the pond that will help drain the pond for different situations. The three piped structure has a top pipe to drain overflow, a middle pipe to reduce the water level and a lower pipe to drain the water when maintenance needs to be done to the pond. Slocum said the main purpose of this system is to alleviate flooding and allow for maintenance to be done.

In recent years flooding from the pond has gone over to the Chief Joseph Apartments. Slocum said after this project there will be no more flooding around the complex.

As for wildlife, Slocum said there is not a lot of evidence of animals living there, but he did acknowledge that projects like this cannot be done without some impact on a habitat. However, overall there should be very little impact to wildlife habitats, he said.

The pond is on track for completion in 2020. Once the silt is removed and dried it is going to be used as topsoil around the city. In two years the pond will be back to normal detaining and cleaning storm water.