Officials warn to stay off retention ponds

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Columbus police are warning local residents that area retention ponds are not frozen enough to walk on. That comes after police were called to a report of children playing on one of the ponds in Shadow Creek Farms subdivision.

Police were sent to the subdivision west of Columbus at about 4:30 p.m. Dec. 28 where a resident reported seeing three to four children playing on what appeared to be a frozen retention pond, said Sgt. Alyson Rech, Columbus Police Department spokeswoman.

The caller immediately urged the children to get off the ice, and they complied and were back on the shoreline when police arrived, Rech said.

Officers did talk to the children about the danger, explaining to them that the pond was not frozen and water was visibly moving, she said.

“None of these ponds are frozen over,” she said.

Retention ponds dot the Bartholomew County landscape, commonly placed near subdivisions and business complexes as a way for water to drain off streets, parking lots and property, and collect away from buildings.

The ponds create an especially dangerous dynamic this time of year because the salt-treated snow, slush and water draining into them often prevents the ponds from freezing as they might without the salt, said Jet Quillen, Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman.

The Department of Natural Resources encourages local residents to get outdoors and enjoy the winter season, but the need to be careful around retention ponds is paramount, he said.

“Our stance is if you don’t know (how thick the ice is), don’t go,” he said. “You need 4 inches of solid thick ice before it’s considered safe.”

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.