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#131181 - 09/02/08 12:21 PM Digging out old pond
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
I am renovating an old farm pond. I'm guessing it's at least 40-50 years old. It's about 40' x 80'. The dam overflowed and eroded in one area so it doesn't hold more than a couple feet of water. I used a backhoe and dug out the eroded area to let the water drain out. I have a few questions:

1) When I repair the dam, should I mix bentonite in with the clay? I plan to rent a plate compactor to compact the soil in layers.

2) Would the muck from the bottom of the pond be good to put in my garden? We just started one last year and the soil here is all red clay.

3) How do I know how deep to dig out the muck? Also, from what I have read on the boards, it sounds like it will never dry out enough for me to drive a tractor on it. Is that true? What are my options? I guess I could rent or hire an excavator if needed, but I would prefer not to spend the money if possible.

Thanks,
Jeff

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#131201 - 09/02/08 02:50 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
JoeG Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Cambridge Springs, PA
I would say you should be able to get adequate compaction using only the clay to back fill around your drain pipe. I would make some sort of anti-seep collar just to be on the safe side and since you are already there.

The muck from the bottom would surely be good for your garden, but a soil test would also help determine if you need lime and fertilizer to add with it, this is normal anyway. When you dig the muck you will see the color difference immediately and know the previously excavated depth when you reach it.

As far as how dry the bottom will get, it depends on how much water is coming in and the weather, lots of dry weather will equal dryer conditions, and the more rain, obviously the reverse is true. How deep are you shooting for? The dry season is getting a bit short, but a 40 x 80 excavation isn't a hard to manage size and would be easy to complete in a couple days or less with an excavator and dump truck, providing your haul is short and you don't have any problems. The money is hard to swallow at first, but the first time you sit next to your pond and watch the ripples onthe surface you won't think about the money, just how glad you are that you spent it.

I haven't seen your pond, but I advise anyone against taking heavy equipment into an unknown bottom like that without a larger machine and rigging around to recover it, should you become, sorry, I mean when you become mired, because you will if you are getting any work done.
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#131208 - 09/02/08 03:51 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: JoeG]
Theo Gallus Online   content
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12369
Loc: Central Ohio
Jeff:

Per Otto, bottom muck generally never dries out if it is thicker than about 18". Ditto the precautions JoeG gave about taking equipment in - we've seen some doozy pics of trackhoes, etc. buried up to the cab doors.
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#131239 - 09/02/08 09:02 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Theo Gallus]
JoeG Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Cambridge Springs, PA
I have some pictures like that of my machines, I don't know how many times I got stuck while digging my pond, but I have had a 48K lb machine stuck and I can assure you, you don't want the task fo getting it out. Otto is right, thicker areas of muck won't dry out because before it does it grow grass, which prevents it from drying any further.

I mentioned the dry season being short, looks like tropical storm season is in full swing, you will have to crap or get off the pot or it will be next summer before you git'r dun.
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The world contains a finite amount of facts, but there are infinite ways to put them to use.

Be a fountain in life, not a drain....

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#131244 - 09/02/08 09:29 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: JoeG]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Thanks for the replies.

I tried digging some of the muck out with the front end loader today. I started at the area with the least slope and dug down to the dry clay so I could drive on it. It was going well until I got some of the muck on the tires, then I had no traction. I have to use the bucket to push myself out of the pond whenever the tires get the muck on them. I was able to remove some of the muck with the backhoe and I am going to see if I can do the entire pond that way. I will have to double and triple handle some of the material to get it out, but if it works it will be worth it. I am going to try and spend 8 hours at it tomorrow and if I make enough progress. Of course I am only about 10' in from the edge now and I could run into trouble when I get to the deep areas, but I have to try before I can justify paying someone else to do it.

Joe, you are right about the dry season ending soon. The morning that I decided to drain the pond, I checked the 15 day forecast on accuweather and they only called for 1 day of rain for the next 15 days. By that evening, there were 4 days. As of now it looks like I'm safe until about the 10th.



Thanks,
Jeff

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#131264 - 09/03/08 08:17 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
Jeff
You have the right idea using a small front end loader, with a little work you will learn to clean up the mud that makes the tires slick. Once that is mastered you could go from one side of the pond to the other. Keep a gentle slope and stay on hard clay in the bottom.

Send pictures.
Otto

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#131317 - 09/03/08 05:48 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
JoeG Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Cambridge Springs, PA
Working neat is the best habit to have when it comes to operating equipment, it takes less time to operate neatly than it does to fix an area that has been butchered.
_________________________
The world contains a finite amount of facts, but there are infinite ways to put them to use.

Be a fountain in life, not a drain....

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#131342 - 09/03/08 09:56 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: JoeG]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Thanks again for the help.

Otto, I only have access from 1 side because of the grades and trees. I did clean up as you suggested and I also add a little dry clay over wet areas. It worked good until I got to the lowest point of the pond, that is where I stopped today. The muck and water keeps moving to the lowest area and as I clean it up and dig deeper, it fills itself in again. Any ideas? I am going to try and clean it up with the backhoe instead of the bucket and see if that works.

Joe, you are right about keeping it clean. The bucket gets to be on such an angle that a full bucket spills all the way up the hill. Now I am only hauling a half bucket or less but I don't spill much anymore.

I checked the weather forecast today and it's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow and I am only about a third of the way done so the project may have to wait a few days. I think about 100 yards of material was removed today.

Here are a few pictures (if I did it right)of before and where it's at now.

Thanks,
Jeff

[img]http://[/img] [email][/email] [img][/img]

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#131607 - 09/06/08 02:51 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
A few more questions for the experts,

First, there are a few big trees on the dam. They go up to 18" in diameter. Should I remove these or can I leave them? I know that you aren't supposed to have trees in the dam but I worry about the roots dying and creating pockets after I remove the trees. The dam is about 10' wide at the top and 8' to 10' tall. Should I remove the trees and then add a few feet of clay to the back of the dam if it starts to leak or just leave them. As far as I know, other than where the dam eroded away, there aren't any leaks now.

Also, there seems to be a layer of very dark red clay just below the muck, it's about 2" to 3" thick. Was that put in to seal the pond when it was built, or is it too thin to do any good. I am ending up removing most of it as I clean the pond out. In the picture, you can see the layer of clay, the photo was taken when it was very wet. Now that it has dries out, it is much more pronounced. There is about 18" of muck over it in this area which is next to the dam and about 3' of muck at the bottom of the pond.

Last question. The hole in the dam has a lot of roots running thru it. Is there anything special I should be doing? Do i just chop the ones that are hanging off or what?


Thanks for the help,
Jeff

[img][/img]

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#131765 - 09/08/08 06:25 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
Good work. The problems you are having are just the way it works, move a little muck clean up what you spill, a half bucket is all you can get sometimes.
The red clay you talked about, What is below that? It may have been put there to help stop water loss or it could have been natural. The rule of thumb on trees on a dam is get them off if they are smaller than 4 inches above let them stay..If they are on the front get them off and clean out the hole they left and repack.

Did you get any rain?

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#131770 - 09/08/08 08:29 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
Theo Gallus Online   content
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12369
Loc: Central Ohio
You might want to keep the trees too big to safely remove trimmed to cut down on their sail area and lessen the chance of them blowing over in high winds.
_________________________

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(totus res in temperantia)

I subscribe, but won't pay Photobucket.

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#131988 - 09/09/08 08:20 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Theo Gallus]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Otto,

Today is the first day since Saturday that I've been able to work on the pond. I got a lot done. I think the red clay is natural since it seems to be at least a couple feet deep at the bottom of the pond. I assume it's thinner by the top from being spread around when the pond was built. Thanks for the info on the trees, I really didn't want to try and remove the big ones.

Theo, good point about trimming the limbs, the pond was full of tree broken tree branches and fallen trees.

I did run into a little problem today. While removing the muck, I kept digging deeper and I am getting too deep for being so close to the dam and the other edges. I have an old pile of red clay that I was using to fill in these areas. At the end of the day, I noticed a sink hole by where I was driving. I will post a few pictures. I don't think its safe for me to get any more of that clay until I can figure out how far this thing goes. It's about 3' at ground level and 12' diameter underground AND there are 2 tunnels going in opposite directions that I can't tell how long or deep they go.

Thanks,
Jeff [img][/img] [url=][/url]

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#131991 - 09/09/08 08:43 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
GET OUT OF THERE NOW.

Jeff
I would have felt a lot better if there was a rope around you in the picture. Let us know what you discover. this will be a lot of fun to hear and see.
Keep us posted as often as possible.

Thanks
Otto

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#131992 - 09/09/08 08:50 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
ewest Offline
Moderator
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19377
Loc: Miss.
How in the world are you going to deal with those caverns ? Its good that they didn't cave in while you were working.
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#131995 - 09/09/08 09:00 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: ewest]
Brettski Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 6874
Loc: Illinois
Jeesh, Jeff....that pic of you inside the hole evoked a heart-felt "OMG!". That really adds a bad feeling to the project. I feel for you and surely hope that you can overcome it. Is it actually within the pond footprint?
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#132007 - 09/09/08 10:23 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Brettski]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Otto, I had a rope in my truck, but you're right I should of had it tied around me. I was standing on a mound that looked like it was there for a while. I could see the fresh dirt on top of it.

Ewest, I was driving over that area off and on all day. I can't believe I didn't notice it when it caved in, although the area is kind of bumpy so I probably didn't pay any attention to the bump. I do keep thinking about what could of happened if a larger area cave in. There is a mound of dirt in the hole, I was standing on the top of it where it was about 3' below grade, from there it goes about 10' deep and the tunnels go a lot deeper. I was too scared to go in far enough to see how deep.

Brettski, This area is about 1000' from the pond. There are piles of clay in this area that I was adding to the pond so the pond won't be affected. I'll just have to find a new source of clay.

We just purchased this land a few years ago and I was told that there was mining(fluorspar I think)done here in the past. I think the piles of clay here may be spoils from an old mine. There are huge trees growing in the piles so it must of been 50 or more years ago. There is probably a few hundred yards of material here. There is also an approx. 60' diameter area that looks like it was dug out years ago-or maybe it was filled in. The area is low and holds water in the springtime. I was planning on digging it out more next year so it would hold water all year. Guess I can cross that off my list.

Jeff

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#132022 - 09/10/08 06:27 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
Jeff
The first picture almost looks like the material has melted away, like the inside of a cave.
Erick used the word caverns. Keep your eyes open and keep us posted.

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#132062 - 09/10/08 01:43 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
JoeG Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Cambridge Springs, PA
Jeff don't go in a hole like that partner, you don't realize how fast things can go south. IIRC a foot of dirt places something like 140 pounds per square inch on you in a collapse, if you have two or three feet land on you, you are a dead hombre in short order, you would suffocate before you could be retrieved.

Make sure you mark that hole well so you and others know it is there.
_________________________
The world contains a finite amount of facts, but there are infinite ways to put them to use.

Be a fountain in life, not a drain....

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#132093 - 09/10/08 10:28 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: JoeG]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
JoeG, thanks for the concern, the more i think about it the more I realize how stupid I was to go in there, it won't happen again. I put in some stakes and caution tape to block off the area today.

I talked to someone from the Illinois DNR today and they are going to send someone out next week to look at it. They said they would fix it but I would be on a waiting list. He said it would be 3 or 4 years.

Anyway, I got the pond almost complete now. I am going to remove the last of the muck tomorrow and fine grade the area.

I was removing some of the water at the bottom of the pond with a 5 gallon pail and I got some help from an unexpected source. I've only seen about 10 snapping turtles in person in my life and to me, this one is huge. I've been working on this pond for a while and I never realized it was there.

Jeff [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]

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#132102 - 09/11/08 07:33 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
Ric Swaim Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/24/03
Posts: 1902
Loc: Surry Co NC
That close up is one heck of a cool pic!

Nice work on the pond! Makes me want to do the sam on my old one.


Edited by Ric Swaim (09/11/08 07:35 AM)
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#132217 - 09/11/08 08:45 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Ric Swaim]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Oops,

My wife showed me how to organize my photobucket account and I guess that's what happened to the photos.

I pretty much finished digging out the pond and cleaning up the edges before the rain. The turtle was still there so I took a few more pictures today with a tape measure next to it. Sorry about getting all excited about a turtle but this thing is huge. It's shell is about 18" long and although I didn't weigh it, it has to be over 40 lbs.

It's raining pretty good now and I will be curious to see if it has any affect on the sink hole.

I'll post a few more pictures of it and the pond, and I will not play with my photobucket account, for now.

Jeff

[img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]

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#132238 - 09/12/08 12:35 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: Jeff244]
JoeG Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Cambridge Springs, PA
That's a big snapper for such a modest pond....but both look fine to me.
_________________________
The world contains a finite amount of facts, but there are infinite ways to put them to use.

Be a fountain in life, not a drain....

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#132247 - 09/12/08 06:27 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: JoeG]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
Looks great. After the rain let us know about the hole.

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#132834 - 09/19/08 08:06 AM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
otto Offline
Lunker

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 1074
Loc: texas
Jeff

What is going on with the hole you found.

Let us know.

Otto

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#132926 - 09/20/08 12:40 PM Re: Digging out old pond [Re: otto]
Jeff244 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Southern IL
Otto,
Not much news at this point. The DNR was supposed to contact me and come out to look at it but I haven't gotten a call yet. I did find out some info on the internet though, I'm about 99% sure now that there is an old mine at the site of the sink hole. It was a flourspar mine. One geology report I read mentioned finding a certain type of limestone at 50' deep. It also mentioned the pile of spoils that I was using, some interesting info but a lot of it is over my head. Most of the info I got was from book published in 1920 so the mine is obviously pretty old.

I'll keep you updated when anything new happens, thanks for the interest.

Jeff

If anyone is interested, here is a link to the book that I got most of the info from. If you search the word "rose" it will give you several pages to read. The land we own was called the Rose Farm. The area we live at is also known as "Hicks Dome".

http://books.google.com/books?id=b30uAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA65&dq=hicks+dome#PPA84,M1

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