Retention Ponds

The City of West Fargo contains a variety of retention ponds that serve as stormwater management facilities. Retention ponds are constantly working, serving an important purpose that makes it unsuitable for recreation, as well as a potential safety hazard. 

What is a retention pond?

Retention ponds are stormwater management facilities that assist with water quality treatment and flood control. The ponds store stormwater and street runoff for short periods of time to allow for sediments to settle at the bottom.

The stored stormwater limits the rate of flow to eliminate flooding during rain events.

How can a retention ponds be a potential safety hazard?

  • Dirty water: Retention ponds are designed to act as filtration systems before water moves on into local water sources. Sediment collected in retention ponds can contain many contaminants and chemicals.  
  • Dangerous currents: Retention ponds provide an area to store stormwater from rain events to eliminate flooding downstream. Constantly changing water levels can cause strong currents, preventing people who would otherwise be able to swim to safety, from doing so. 
  • Changing conditions: Multiple factors constantly change the state of retention ponds including agitation pumps in the ponds running intermittently, varying water depths, contaminant drainage into the ponds and potentially dangerous currents.

Safety Tips


  • Do NOT use retention ponds for recreational use including swimming, fishing, boating or play along the banks.
  • Ensure children are supervised when near retention ponds. 
  • Contact the City of West Fargo if you see something in a pond, observe someone dumping in a pond or if you observe extremely high water levels.


  • Stay off iced over retention ponds. The risk of falling through ice is always present. 
  • Retention ponds should never be walked on or used for recreation after they ice over including ice skating, fishing, sledding or play on the frozen body of water. 
  • Snow can insulate the ice, affecting ice formation and hiding visual signs that the ice is unsafe. 

What to do if someone falls into a retention pond?

If someone does break through the ice, call 911 immediately. The West Fargo Fire Department is equipped with special equipment and completes extensive training to allow them to respond safely to these situations. 


  • If you have to attempt a rescue while waiting for help, throw a piece of rope or something that floats to the victim. 
  • Keep a life jacket, empty water jug or other objects that can float on hand if you plan to be near retention ponds. 


  • If you have to attempt a rescue while waiting for help, use a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit and lay down on the ice to disperse your weight evenly. 
  • It is also good to have a life jacket, empty water jug or other objects that can float on hand if you do plan to be on the ice.