Letter to the Editor

Kill Zachary “detention” bill

A bill in the Tennessee State House, HB362 sponsored by Rep. Jason Zachary, would change the state regulations regarding detention ponds. Under this proposed legislation, developers would be able to reduce the size of the detention ponds to create more space for houses.

Sounds great, right? Well, let’s take a second look. This time of year, many Knox County homeowners are weed[ing] and feeding their lawns in preparation for the summer. When it rains, and we have had a lot of rain lately, many of the herbicides and toxics in the fertilizer and weed killers run off the lawns and down the road into the subdivision’s detention ponds that take care of stormwater runoff.

Without those detention ponds, these pollutants would go straight into the area’s creeks, streams and lakes causing a problem for treatment facilities and anyone who enjoys an afternoon on the lake. Those problems include excess nitrates, which could cause Blue Baby Syndrome, and an increase in algae in our lakes. Without adequate detention pond capacity, more of your tax dollars would go to building new or expanding current treatment facilities to treat the water pollution from stormwater runoff as has been the case in Des Moines, Iowa. What would be lost in this legislation is the detention ponds' ability to act as the first filter for water pollutants in the stormwater system.

The National League of Cities Sustainable Cities Institute lists many benefits of detention ponds including: improved water quality in surrounding water bodies; aesthetic appeal; increased biodiversity; wildlife habitat; water conservation; flood prevention and minimization of erosion.

Everyone in Knox County wants quality real estate development that protects our natural environment. There needs to be a balance between allowing developers to develop while not damaging property [land or water] downstream from their developments. And we all live downstream from somewhere.

The Knox County Stormwater Management team does a good job in protecting residents from problems during period[s] of heavy rain. By reducing the detention pond requirements, this bill is placing future homeowners at an unnecessary risk for flood damage just so the developer can squeeze a few more lots into the subdivision. That is not a good balance for the homeowners.

Please urge Rep. Zachery to pull this bill to protect your land and water property rights. This is a situation where the state and local regulations are working and don’t need to be changed.

Renee Hoyos,

executive director Tennessee

Clean Water Network