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Kaukauna City officials explain why retention pond wasn’t fenced off

Local News

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) — After twelve-year-old Dylun Tapio fell into a retention pond and later died, many were calling for safer retention ponds.

According to city officials, the retention pond involved, as well as many others across the area, may not require safety features such as fencing.

The Kaukauna Directory of Public Works/City Engineer, John Sundelius, says, “The vast majority of storm water management ponds around the state are not fenced…the ponds that are fenced in usually have some type of increased hazard such as a step embankment, lacking of a safety shelf, or unsafe sediment.”

In a document included with Sundelius’ statement,

Fencing is sometimes considered an additional safeguard at some sites.

However, it can hamper mowing, fencing is sometimes considered an additional safeguard at some sites. However, it can hamper mowing, collect debris and detract from the area’s open space.

Fencing might discourage toddlers and other collect debris and detract from the area’s open space.

Fencing might discourage toddlers and other people from accessing ponds, but can be viewed as a worthy and exciting challenge to some children and people from accessing ponds, but can be viewed as a worthy and exciting challenge to some children and older youth.

If an accident does occur, the fence may hamper rescue efforts. Generally, fencing should not older youth.

If an accident does occur, the fence may hamper rescue efforts. Generally, fencing should not be necessary if other appropriate design practices are used. e necessary if other appropriate design practices are used.

Storm Water Detention Ponds Site Safety Design

Sundelius went on to say pools require fencing because their vertical walls allow for a sudden drop off into deep water, preventing the ability to simply walk out of the pool.

“Properly designed storm water management ponds have a ‘safety shelf’ that is relatively flat (10:1) that eliminates the sharp drop off that a swimming pool has. The safety shelf typically has wetland vegetation that also deters people from entering,” says Sundelius.

Local 5’s Paul Evansen learned Wednesday the pond Tapio fell into was already designed with a shallow shelf around the edge which was intended to keep people from slipping into deep water. Heavy rains or quick downpours can cause ponds to change several feet in depth quickly.

Following the calls for safer retention pond areas, Kaukauna Mayor Tony Penterman says, “We at the City of Kaukauna, were saddened to learn of the passing of a young boy as a result of Tuesday night’s tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time.”

Tapio was recovered from a pond in Kaukauna after trying to return a turtle to the pond. He later died at a local hospital.

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