Report Title:

Detention and Retention Ponds



Regulates detention and retention ponds.  Establishes retention and detention pond task force.



S.B. NO.


















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that Hawaii has the highest rate of drowning in the country.  An average of thirty Hawaii residents, or 2.4 victims for every one hundred thousand people, drown each year in the State's oceans, lakes, dams and reservoirs, rainwater retention and detention ponds, flood waters, swimming pools, spas, and bath tubs.

     Hawaii's keiki are the most vulnerable to drowning, which in this State and nine others, is the leading cause of death among children aged fourteen and younger.  Hawaii's older keiki are more vulnerable to drowning in the ocean, lakes, ponds, dams and reservoirs, rainwater catchments, as well as detention and retention ponds.

     Detention and retention ponds are meant to hold storm water.  Similarly, rainwater catchments are used to harvest runoff rainwater.  While many catchment systems collect runoff in enclosed tanks, some systems utilize artificial ponds to catch water.

     Unregulated and poorly maintained rainwater detention and retention ponds pose a serious health and safety risk, particularly to Hawaii's children.  Since rainwater retention and detention ponds are often mistaken for recreational bodies of water, they should be clearly marked with hazard and warning signs that prohibit swimming and water sports.

     The legislature further finds that more than a year ago, the department of health recommended reducing the drowning rate by more than half to less than one resident per one hundred thousand by 2010.  A high drowning rate detracts from the State's image as a safe as well as pleasurable visitor destination.

     The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have recommended the use of fencing to protect children from water hazards.  Also, the State's injury prevention panel has recommended four-sided isolation fencing for residential pools to isolate the pool from the house or yard.  Rainwater detention and retention ponds should be similarly enclosed with fencing at least four feet high and accessed by one or more locked gates.

     The purpose of this Act is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State by creating a program for monitoring and enforcing the safety of Hawaii's rainwater retention and detention ponds to prevent drowning.

     This Act also recognizes Charlotte "Sharkey" Schaefer, the five-year-old girl who drowned at a Pearl City naval housing complex while trying to save the life of her childhood friend.

     SECTION 2.  Chapter 46, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"§46‑     Retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area pond; requirements; maintenance plan.  Beginning January 1, 2010, no retention pond, detention pond, or catchment area pond, as those terms are defined in section 321-B, shall be permitted to be constructed within a county unless the developer or responsible person proposing its construction and maintenance:

     (1)  Certifies that a retention pond, detention pond, or catchment area pond is necessary for rainwater or storm water mitigation and that there is no other alternative;

     (2)  Includes a one hundred foot wide buffer in the design surrounding the pond to separate it from schools, child care facilities, homes, parks, athletic fields, or housing projects; provided that trails and sidewalks shall be separated from all storm water detention facilities by not less than twenty five feet, measured from the one hundred year pool of the pond; and

     (3)  Creates and adopts a maintenance plan pursuant to section 321-E."

     SECTION 3.  Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

     "§302A‑     Water safety education; retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area pond.  The department shall incorporate retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area pond safety into the department's water safety curriculum."

     SECTION 4.  Chapter 321, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:


     §321-A  Short title.  This part may be cited as the "Charlotte 'Sharkey' Schaefer Law".

     §321‑B  Definitions.  For the purposes of this part, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

     "Catchment area pond" means an area used to harvest rainwater runoff.

     "Detention pond" or "wet-detention system" means a permanent or semi-permanent aquatic system that acts as a trap where pollutants picked up by the initial surge of storm water settle out before leaving the detention pond.  A detention pond dries out only under drought conditions and the water in a detention pond is displaced by an equivalent amount of entering storm water.

     "Retention pond" or "dry-retention systems" means an area that is designed to hold storm water until the effects of percolation, evapotranspiration, or controlled release, return the area to its normally dry state.  The area is designed to dissipate inflowing storm water within seventy-two hours to accommodate a new volume of water.

     §321‑C  Exemptions.  Golf courses, hotels, resort properties, or other secured recreational areas that submit maintenance plans and provide proof of security shall be exempt from the requirements of this part.

     §321‑D  Retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area pond; safety measures required; inspection; fines.  (a)  The department shall perform an annual safety inspection of each retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area in the State built after December 31, 2009 to ensure that the operation of each retention pond, detection pond, and catchment area pond complies with the maintenance plan adopted pursuant to this section and pertinent rules.

     (b)  Each retention pond, detention pond, and catchment area pond shall:

     (1)  Be supplied with:

         (A)  Emergency flotation devices; and

         (B)  A reaching pole or similar device to pull ashore individuals who may be stranded in the pond;

          provided these emergency safety devices shall be posted immediately adjacent to each locked gate inside the fence under paragraph (2);

     (2)  Be enclosed with fencing at least four feet high, with access controlled by a locked gate or gates;

     (3)  Have adequate drainage;

     (4)  Have hazard signs posted outside of every entry point or locked gate or at four hundred foot intervals warning of the dangers of drowning and prohibiting entry; provided that dry ponds shall have signs warning that they may fill suddenly with deep water;

     (5)  Maintain a one hundred foot buffer from parks, playgrounds, schools, athletic fields, and neighborhoods where children play and live; provided that trails and sidewalks shall be separated from all storm water detention facilities by not less than twenty five feet, measured from the one hundred year pool of the pond;

     (6)  Have adequate drainage capable of releasing exceptional storm runoff if normal discharge devices are totally or partially inoperative.  Off-site flows greater than the allowable release rate for the pond shall be conveyed through an emergency spillway, not through the primary outlet structure.  The primary outlet structure shall be sized and the invert elevation of the emergency overflow weir determined according to the on-site runoff only and all other flows shall be either retained or safely bypassed through the emergency overflow weir.  Emergency overflow facilities should be designed to handle 1.25 times the peak discharge and the peak flow velocity resulting from the one hundred year design storm event runoff from the entire contributing watershed draining to the detention facility, assuming post-development condition on-site and existing condition off-site;

     (7)  Have a safety ramp exit from the pond that is a minimum width of twenty feet and have an exit slope of six horizontal to one vertical (6:1).  The ramp shall be constructed of suitable material to prevent structural instability due to vehicle impacts or wave action;

     (8)  Undergo periodic maintenance to control weed and larval growth;

     (9)  Remove debris and trash and perform other necessary maintenance on a regular basis to ensure continued operation in conformance to recommended design standards; and

    (10)  Be subject to an annual safety inspection.

     (c)  The department shall conduct an annual inspection to verify that the developer or person responsible for the retention pond, detention pond, or catchment area pond:

     (1)  Has on file an ongoing maintenance plan, including design drawings and operational records, adopted pursuant to this chapter; and

     (2)  Is complying with the maintenance plan as well as federal, state, and county design and safety guidelines.

     §321‑E  Maintenance plan.  (a)  Every developer or person responsible for constructing or maintaining a retention pond, detention pond, or catchment area pond in the State shall adopt a maintenance plan to ensure continued safety that includes design drawings, safety features, such as warning signs and safety devices, a method to maintain operational records, and requiring adequate drainage and enclosing a retention pond, detention pond, or catchment area pond with fencing.

     (b)  Maintenance plans shall comply with best practices standards as required by federal, state, and county guidelines.  For the purposes of this section, best practices standards means:

     (1)  For wet-detention systems:

         (A)  A six-foot maintenance ledge shall be installed approximately twelve inches above the permanent water level.  A safety ledge six feet in width shall be installed approximately eighteen inches below the permanent water level.  The slope between the two ledges shall be stable and protected from erosion with hard armoring or bioengineered techniques.

         (B)  For wet bottom facilities without a security fence, a maintenance ledge ten feet in width is required and shall be installed twelve inches above the permanent water level.  The ground surface slope shall be no steeper than a ration of six (horizontal) to one (vertical) from the maintenance ledge to a depth of six feet below the permanent water level of the facility.  Ground surface slopes shall be no steeper than 3:1 when the depth exceeds six feet below the permanent water level of the facility.  The planting of vegetated barriers, from the top of the bank to the water's edge around the perimeter of wet-bottom ponds without a security fence, is highly recommended.  These barriers serve as potential obstacles to persons or animals who may consider entering the water.  The vegetation shall preferably be planted in a manger that does not disguise the pond's edge.  Maintenance of the vegetated barrier shall be the responsibility of the pond's owner or the homeowners association.

     (2)  For dry-retention systems:

         (A)  Standard best practices of dry bottom ponds shall include provisions that ensure complete interior drainage such as natural grades to outlet structures, longitudinal and transverse grades to perimeter drainage facilities, paved gutters, or installation of subsurface drains.  For residential developments or developments that are within one hundred feet of parks, playgrounds, schools, or sporting fields, the maximum planned depth of stored storm water shall not exceed four feet.  In excavated detention facilities, a minimum side slope of 3:1 shall be provided for stability.  In the case of valley storage, natural slopes shall be considered stable.

     (3)  For paved parking lot drainage:

         (A)  Paved parking lots shall be designed to provide temporary detention storage of storm water.  Pursuant to standard best practices, outlets for parking lot storage shall be designed to empty the stored waters slowly.  Depths of storage shall be limited to a maximum depth of seven inches to prevent damage to parked vehicles to not impair access to vehicles.  Ponding shall be confined to those areas of the parking lot that are farthest from the area served.

     (c)  Existing retention ponds, detention ponds, and catchment area ponds that do not have a maintenance plan in place are exempt from this chapter.  Responsible parties shall submit their names to the department so that they can be contacted should the requirements change.

     §321‑F  Rules; fines.  The department shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 91 to carry out the purposes of this part.  Violations of this part shall be subject to administrative fines in amounts as determined by the department in accordance with rules."

     SECTION 5.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $        or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009-2010 to fund a retention and detention pond task force to study the issue of retention and detention ponds in the State and suggest appropriate legislation to the legislature as warranted.

The task force shall consist of nine members appointed by the chairperson of the board of land and natural resources and shall serve without pay; provided that task force members shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses including travel expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their official duties.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of land and natural resources for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 6.  In codifying the new sections added by section 4 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

     SECTION 7.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 8.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that section 5 shall take effect on July 1, 2009.