The Detention Basin Queen

Pictured at left, my current nominee for the ugliest detention basin.

Just call me Lois Jean, the Detention Basin Queen. Slowly but surely over the past three years, I’ve been making converts to my new belief system that no detention basin needs to be ugly. In case anyone forgot, I’m out to eradicate those aesthetically obnoxious stormwater collection holes from the face of the Earth! See

My ever-dependable cohort in this enterprise, Environmental Commissioner Diane Gillespie, and I have spent the past two years traipsing through wind, rain, sleet, and snow (but not the dead of night) to stare into yet another ugly hole in the ground and shoot its portrait. We’ve dragged our municipal engineer, as well as a federal biologist from hole to hole, seeking the answer to our question, “What can be done about this?”

The answer is (drumroll, please) they can be converted to stormwater gardens that qualify as habitat restoration projects. On October 17th, The Morris County Parks Commission’s Frelinghuysen Arboretum and the Andover Township Environmental Commission are partnering to present an all-day symposium on the subject. Speakers include experts on stormwater, engineering, and native plants. On the lighter side, there will be an ugly detention basin contest, so potential contenders might want to start prowling their towns now with digital camera in hand. To get on the mailing list, send an e-mail to More on the symposium later.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to get more phone calls like one I received the other day. “Hello? I’ve got a detention basin that not only doesn’t work, but it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen. Can you help me?” YES!

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