Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Gregory S. Hancock

Committee Members

Randolph M. Chambers

James M. Kaste

Richard S. Phillips


This honors thesis extends five years of research by undergraduate geology students at the College of William and Mary, evaluating the performance of wet detention ponds in James City County, Virginia. In this study, field measured peak inflows, peak outflows, centroid lag times, and runoff constants from two ponds were compared to design predictions and state and local regulations. HydroCAD models of each site were utilized to explore design elements providing uncertainty in predictions of pond inflows and outflows. Modeling results were used to interpret field performance data from this study and provide recommendations for design improvement. Mulberry Place pond, designed using the rational runoff method, did not exhibit peak inflows, outflows, centroid lag times, or runoff coefficients consistent with design predictions. This pond also likely fails to reduce peak outflows of the 2 yr, 24 hr storm to pre-development values (state standard MS-19). Longhill Grove pond, designed with the SCS TR-55 method, did not perform in the field as designed with respect to peak outflows and centroid lag times. Both ponds failed to meet the local James City County standard requiring retention of the 1yr, 24 hr storm for 24 hours. Field performance problems at each site resulted from three major design issues: 1) uncertainty in predicted and actual curve numbers and runoff coefficients, creating large differences between predicted and actual inflows and even larger differences between prediction and actual outflows; 2) a simplified "kerplunk" method for calculating 24 hour drawdown and orifice sizing, creating ponds that typically retain water for less than 12 hours; 3) pond volumes 2x and 2.5x smaller than needed to adequately reduce the effect of the first two design problems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only