Riverside’s Retention Ponds: Two “new” ponds catch runoff water, preserve Eno River in back of school

Story by Cayden Pegg

Over the summer new ponds appeared next to Riverside’s practice soccer field and behind the greenhouse. 

The purpose of the ponds is to retain all of the runoff water that’s created on campus. 

RHS has actually always had two runoff ponds, but stopped functioning several years ago. The ponds were built before the current guidelines, and the one behind the greenhouse was filled with sediment from many years of use. The pond next to the practice soccer field stopped functioning when tree roots compromised the integrity of the soil and eventually broke a dam, according to DPS science specialist and former Riverside teacher Emma Refvem.

Riverside’s site plan before it was build. Photo by Cayden Pegg

“This was a hazard for the RHS cross country team,” said Refvem.

The renovation project was done by NC State and funded by a grant to make them up to code and also restore the wetland. “The ponds are technically easements” says Ms. Refvem. This means that the ponds are technically owned by the county of Durham’s and it is their responsibility to keep these ponds under control. 

This grant included RHS and 3 other schools in the region including southern highschool.

One of the retention ponds in the back of the school. Photo by Cayden Pegg

“The retention ponds at Riverside are especially important,” said Refvem. 

This is because Riverside is in the middle of land that drains off into the Eno River, also known as the Eno watershed. The ponds protect the Eno from dirty runoff water that may contain pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. This project is especially important because according to Durham’s annual State of Our Streams report, the Eno River was given a 81/100 compared to last year’s 90. 

Refvem said the ponds can also be a resource for teaching the biology of wetland environments. They cannot, however, be used for recreational purposes like fishing.

“The ponds are too shallow,” said Refvem.

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