How Do Underground Detention Systems Work

Underground detention systems are an important part of modern stormwater management. They are essential in preventing flooding, protecting our environment, and ensuring the safety of our communities. These systems work by storing excess water underground during heavy rainfall and slowly releasing it back into the surrounding soil over time.

But how do they actually work? In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of underground detention systems and the role they play in stormwater management.

Understanding Stormwater Management

Before we dive into the details of underground detention systems, it’s important to have a basic understanding of stormwater management. Stormwater refers to any water that falls from the sky during rain or snowstorms. In urban areas, this water can cause problems as it runs off impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs, and parking lots.

In the past, stormwater was often treated as waste and directed into rivers or other bodies of water. However, this approach is harmful to the environment as it can lead to erosion, pollution, and flooding. That’s where stormwater management comes in.

Stormwater management aims to control the flow of water from urban areas, reducing the risk of flooding and minimizing its impact on the environment. This is achieved through various methods, including underground detention systems.

Locating Underground Utilities

Before we dig deeper into how underground detention systems function, there’s an important point to consider. Say, for instance, you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands and need to know how to locate underground utilities yourself. It’s a delicate task, and you need to approach it with caution to prevent interrupting services or causing any damage. This is especially crucial when working with underground detention systems as they typically lie beneath areas with other vital services such as gas, water, or electricity lines. We’ve found an informative guide at that provides a comprehensive step-by-step process on how to locate underground utilities yourself. It’s definitely worth checking out before you start digging around!

The Role of Underground Detention Systems

The Role of Underground Detention Systems

Underground detention systems are structures designed to store excess stormwater underground. They act as temporary storage during heavy rainfall events, holding back water until it can be released into the surrounding soil at a slower rate.

This process helps to reduce the amount of stormwater that enters the sewer systems and natural waterways, preventing flooding and reducing erosion. In addition, by slowly releasing water back into the soil, underground detention systems allow for natural filtration and purification before it reaches our rivers and streams.

Components of Underground Detention Systems

To understand how underground detention systems work, it’s important to know the different components that make up the system.

Storage Tanks

The main component of underground detention systems is the storage tank. These tanks can be made from various materials, including plastic, concrete, and metal. They are installed below ground level and can hold a large volume of stormwater.

Inlet/Outlet Structures

Inlet structures allow for stormwater to enter the detention system, while outlet structures control the release of water back into the surrounding soil.


Pipes are used to connect the storage tanks with inlet and outlet structures. They also help to distribute water evenly throughout the system.

Overflow Structure

In case of heavy rainfall, underground detention systems need an overflow structure to prevent flooding. This structure is designed to release excess water when the storage tank reaches its capacity.

The Functioning of Underground Detention Systems

Now that we understand the components of underground detention systems, let’s take a closer look at how they work. Here are the key steps involved in their functioning:

  1. Water enters the system through inlet structures during heavy rainfall events.
  2. The storage tanks hold back the excess water, preventing it from entering sewer systems or natural waterways.
  3. As the rainfall subsides, the outlet structures slowly release water back into the surrounding soil.
  4. The released water is naturally filtered and purified by the soil before it reaches rivers and streams.

Benefits of Underground Detention Systems work

Underground detention systems offer numerous benefits, making them a crucial part of stormwater management. Some of the main advantages include:

  • Preventing flooding and erosion: By storing excess stormwater underground, these systems reduce the risk of flooding and minimize erosion.
  • Protecting water quality: By slowly releasing water back into the surrounding soil, underground detention systems allow for natural filtration and purification, resulting in improved water quality.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to traditional stormwater management methods, underground detention systems are a more cost-effective solution.
  • Space-saving: Since these systems are installed underground, they do not take up valuable space on the surface, making them ideal for urban areas that have limited open space.


How deep are underground detention systems usually installed?

The depth of underground detention systems can vary depending on the site’s conditions, but they are typically installed around 10-20 feet below ground level.

Can underground detention systems be used in all types of soil?

Yes, these systems can be installed in a variety of soil types as long as proper design and construction techniques are followed.

Do underground detention systems require regular maintenance?

Yes, regular maintenance is required to ensure the system continues to function effectively. This can include cleaning out debris and inspecting components for any damage.

Are there any size limitations for underground detention systems?

The size of these systems can vary depending on the specific needs of a site, but they are commonly used in both small and large-scale projects.

Can underground detention systems be retrofit into existing developments?

Yes, underground detention systems can be retrofitted into existing developments to improve stormwater management and reduce the risk of flooding.


Underground detention systems play a vital role in stormwater management, helping to prevent flooding and protect the environment. Is there a way to repair pipes without digging up the ground? By understanding their components and functioning, we can appreciate the benefits they offer and how they contribute to sustainable water management practices. If you have any further questions about underground detention systems or other stormwater management techniques, consult with a professional engineer for personalized advice, including innovative methods for non-invasive pipe repair. So, don’t wait any longer and take the necessary steps to implement these systems in your community today!

News Reporter
Mark Buckingham grew up in a Plumbing and HVAC family business. Mark has over 21 years of professional internet marketing and SEO experience (in results). He’s a leading expert in helping Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical businesses get to the top of Google, boost leads, get more customers and grow their company. As the founder of Skyrocket Results SEO, he's on a mission to help HVAC contractors, Plumbers and Electricians avert internet marketing mistakes, avoid wasted marketing dollars, increase profits and build wealth. His free Plumbing, HVAC and electrical company marketing blog is:

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