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#412844 - 05/26/15 07:52 PM high water table and an excavator
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
I am planning on building 3 ponds all under 1 acre, 2 will be shallow ponds(6 foot) for cows and 1 pond i want to build deep(15 ft +) and put fish in it., my water table is approx 3 feet deep. I have an excavator, a dump truck and a son that will be out of school(all summer), the ponds are all in flat lowlands. any advice would be much appreciated, i plan on starting in 1-2 weeks.

here are a couple of questions that i currently have.
1. how will i build the deep pond if the water level is so high?
2. will the water stay at the current water level, or will the water rise slightly by taking the compaction and weight of the soil off of it?

thanks in advance for any and all help.

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#412847 - 05/26/15 08:37 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5654
Loc: Boone County Illinois
Welcome to PBF redclay,

I also have a watertable pond as you describe. IMO you will face challenges. You will need a trash pump(s) to keep the water down while you dig. The dirt removed may still be soup and you may need to pile it by the hole and let it dry before you can put it in a truck and move it. Your water table may fluctuate thru the year. I would figure it will be at least 3 feet or so less than it is now when you dig the depth. IMHO deeper is always better with a watertable pond. I am not a pro just telling you my personal experience. Hopefully, a pro will be along to offer more experienced thoughts.

Again, welcome to PBF!

Bill D.
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You'll never know what ya can catch unless you wet a line!

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#412855 - 05/26/15 09:23 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Rainman Offline
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Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 6976
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Welcome to the forum, redclay!

As Bill D said, you'll need water pumps to keep the water level at a minimum. If you can dig a deep hole to pull water from to keep it drained below the work area, even better. Your water level will fluctuate through the year at whatever height the water table is at any given time. Rainy weather, the water will be high....in dry times, it might be several feet lower...as much as 10 feet or more lower. Ask your local well drillers and/or NRCS agent what the levels range at in your area.

If your "shallow" ponds are built in a high table period, they may go dry in dry weather lows....
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#412865 - 05/26/15 10:18 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
ok, so a trash pump is a must...great idea on asking a local well driller!!!, if the level does fluctuate it might save me a lot of time if i wait another month...but i am not sure it will too much do to how close to the river i am...

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#413124 - 05/28/15 10:56 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Mike Otto Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 144
Loc: Texas
There are lots of things to think about, like Bill D and Rainman said. The success of the project will be in the planning, but let's get your son to work as soon as he gets out of school

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#413297 - 05/29/15 05:33 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
"There are lots of things to think about...The success of the project will be in the planning" I agree!!!

site, depth, moving dirt i have thought through

what size pump will i need to keep ahead of the water filling up?, what if i cant keep ahead of the water...can i just dig it wet down to 15 feet?

what is the easiest way to dig this, start in the middle and spiral out to make a circle, or back and forth to make a rectangle...there is plenty of land, i can make it in any shape, what is the easiest?

from people who have done this before, what other items should I be looking at?

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#413315 - 05/29/15 08:58 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Swiss Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 36
Loc: NE Georgia
1.) I would dig all ponds until you hit the water table, then stop

2.) Go back to first pond and setup pump and dig as fast as possible to get down to 6 feet

2.) I would dig the second pond diverting the water into the first pond which is still pumping if possible. Dig this one 8 feet deep

3.) Dig the last deep pond and divert into the second pond or the deeper of the first 2.

If you had a grade and potential to connect the ponds you could do some interesting water movement and have a unique pond system.

Just my thoughts.
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#413318 - 05/29/15 09:28 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
blair5002 Offline
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Registered: 07/15/08
Posts: 694
Loc: Sask, Canada
You will probably need a 3" trash pump to keep up with the ground water. I dug my ground water pond wet without pumping much but pumping would be easier digging. I would start in the middle and keep working outwards. Let the dirt sit for a day and dry a bit if you have to for hauling.

If you dig it wet there is no way you will be able to get it 15 feet deep. You will have to be careful with the suction end of your hose so it doesn't fill with sand. I would recommend tying it to a tire or inner tube to keep it off the bottom. Be prepared for challenges digging with that much water present. My pond stays a fairly constant depth all year around but we have had fairly wet years since I dug it 3 years ago. Try a test hole early to see where your water level might sit.
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#413330 - 05/29/15 11:06 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
fish n chips Offline


Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 2315
Loc: Northeast Ohio
I think I would go straight to a 4" pump. Just my opinion. You may not need it, but why buy a small one, then need to go buy bigger (my experience).

How much the water flows in will also be a result of what soils you have. It can make a huge difference in what you need for a pump. Possibly dig a test hole till you get to water. Before buying, might rent a pump for a day to see how much the pump can keep up, or not. See if that water just keeps flowing into the test hole, or will the pump get it down and the source slows down. The bigger your perimeter gets the more it might let water flow in, thus more the challenge in keeping up with flow.

Do you have a place to pump it to?

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#413358 - 05/30/15 08:14 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
"Do you have a place to pump it to?"

it is all low land, very little grade, but i could excavate a slight sloped trench to take it off towards the river.

would it be possible/easier to dig the pond in segments to make it easier to pump the water in the smaller area that i am working in, then join all the areas at the end? just trying to think through all the possibilities.

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#413365 - 05/30/15 08:43 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
fish n chips Offline


Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 2315
Loc: Northeast Ohio
Originally Posted By: redclay


would it be possible/easier to dig the pond in segments to make it easier to pump the water in the smaller area that i am working in, then join all the areas at the end? just trying to think through all the possibilities.



Yes. The approach I did was similar. But again, it is about what soil you have and how fast the water will run thru your soil from the segment you are pumping to back to where you are working.

Another thing I did was dig a hole deeper than what I intended to go. Set up pump there. Then dig but alaways keep a grade that allows the water to go to that deep hole, thus keeps you from working in water. Be ready to dig like a mad man and get as much done as possible. If rains come, or it is flowing in fast, you may not have much working time before you fall behind in pumping. Have all your ducks in order so you can concentrate on digging. If the hole fills up, you might then start another one next to it like you are thinking, but that one will need to be deeper than the first, and still dig like crazy. you might get it big enough to allow all the water from the first one to spill into the second one. That will allow you to go back and dig the first one more. Repeat back and forth till your good. Be carefull of this barrier. If not done/excavated properly, it could all bust at a moments notice.

Also keep in mind this type of pond/digging is not sealed properly. It will have water fluctuations.


Edited by fish n chips (05/30/15 08:46 AM)

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#413373 - 05/30/15 09:12 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: fish n chips]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
not that i am a pessimist, but i always look at worst case scenarios...what if the water flows in so fast i cant stay ahead of it with the pump and i have to dig it wet...realistically how much more time will this take for the shallow pond...is there no way to dig it deep if wet?, the stick on my excavator is 10 feet, bucket is another 4 feet.

thanks a lot for all this information!!!

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#413376 - 05/30/15 09:32 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
esshup Offline
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Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 24029
Loc: Grovertown, Indiana
If you dig it wet, expect to take 2-3 times as long. Every scoop you pick up will have water washing out of the bucket, and washing out dirt with it as it moves. Also, the water will wash away the grease on the pivot points, making them wear faster. Then you have the water running back into the pond every time you dump the bucket, carrying dirt back into the pond with it.

Last but not least, you can't see what you are digging, so how do you know if you are digging it the way you want it?

Go get a 3" or 4" trash pump, and do it the right way.

A 3" trash pump will move 16,000+ gph, a 4" will move 23,000+ gph.

I dug my pond down to 22' deep using a 3" pump.
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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).

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#413379 - 05/30/15 10:14 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5654
Loc: Boone County Illinois
+1 FWIW when I first dug mine, we used a 3 inch and got by. We were still not able to load directly into trucks as the soil (sand, gravel and some clay mix) was still super staturated with water and it was like digging thick soup. We had to pile it on the side and let it drain. I did recently do an expansion without pumping down. As Esshup points out, you can't see what you're doing and the bucket is half water and half soil. The excavator had to be greased twice a day.
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You'll never know what ya can catch unless you wet a line!

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#413384 - 05/30/15 11:10 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
THANKS, that is exactly what i needed to hear..i will get a 4 inch pump...the deeper i can go the better on the one pond, 22 feet would be nice!!!, did you dig it in sections or just started in the middle and dug outward?

so with the dirt, did you then make a pile and then rescoop to move the dirt after it dried?

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#413408 - 05/30/15 02:21 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200418135_200418135

would a pump like this work...or would i have to get a full "trash" pump...from what i can tell the difference bw full trash and semi is the size of particle it can move,up to 3/4 inch vs. 1 1/4 inch...both have cast iron impeller and volute.

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#413411 - 05/30/15 03:15 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5654
Loc: Boone County Illinois
That would work for me. Don't forget hoses. FWIW I used a 20 foot inlet hose (not sure you can go much longer than that on the inlet size). I also had 200 feet of discharge hose and still had trouble with "runback." I would also look at Esshup's post I saw recently of adding an aux fuel tank as you will want it running all the time (even at night) unless you have enough excess capacity that you can pump down quickly each morning.
_________________________

You'll never know what ya can catch unless you wet a line!

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#413418 - 05/30/15 04:59 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Mike Otto Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 144
Loc: Texas
Have you got a place to move the dirt -mud to. There will be a bunch of it. Look at the digging like you are painting the floor do not get yourself in a place you do not want to be---also know that it can be difficult to get back to on the other side of and excavated area.

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#413434 - 05/30/15 06:04 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
fish n chips Offline


Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 2315
Loc: Northeast Ohio
"What do you do if you can't pump the water fast enough"

As stated by others, it makes it pretty darn rough. Perhaps Mike Otto could relay some times he has handled that type of situation. I will add here, that Mike has a new book out about digging ponds. You might want to get a copy of that ASAP. I have not seen it, but others here have given it good reviews, and Mike is probably to modest to suggest that you buy it.

Having been thru the experience, I still think that the best piece of equipment for that type of scenario is a dragline with a sauremans bucket. But you can't just go out and start buying equipment, can you. Got to make do with what you got. I am a little worried for you on the size of machine you have, and the amount of dirt you need to move.

You don't need a true trash pump like you mention above, but you will need to keep the intake up out of the mud so it don't suck up any stones, like Blair said. You can push the water a long ways. You can't pull the water much. I'd get the pump as close to the water as possible. That's in height too. Then push the water. Besides, the suction hose will cost the money, the discharge hose is cheap. I also want to throw out there, tread carefully as to where you pump the water. Into a river? You just may not be able to use a pump for that reason and your back to step one. Nobody else has brought this up, because they all want to pump(and it is the best way), but you do have to consider the fact of where you are pumping to and it's effects.

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#413446 - 05/30/15 07:32 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: fish n chips]
esshup Offline
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Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 24029
Loc: Grovertown, Indiana
Some of what you are in for......

My pond renovation
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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).

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#413457 - 05/30/15 08:42 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
redclay Offline


Registered: 05/24/15
Posts: 9
Loc: georgia
esshup, that looks like a LOT of work, from the dimensions of your pond, it is close to 2 acres...how long did it take you?

how deep is it?

fish n chips, what is the name of the book?

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#413458 - 05/30/15 09:00 PM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5654
Loc: Boone County Illinois
The name of Mike's book is Just Add Water. You can find it at the link below in the Pond Boss bookstore if yer interested.

http://www.pondboss.com/store.asp?c=8
_________________________

You'll never know what ya can catch unless you wet a line!

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#413505 - 05/31/15 10:11 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
esshup Offline
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Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 24029
Loc: Grovertown, Indiana
Originally Posted By: redclay
esshup, that looks like a LOT of work, from the dimensions of your pond, it is close to 2 acres...how long did it take you?

how deep is it?

fish n chips, what is the name of the book?


Currently it's a bit over 5/8 acre because it's approximately 48" low due to low groundwater levels. When full it's slightly over an acre.

It was dug down to 22' depth, then Hurricane Ike came by not 2 weeks after it was completed, dumping 12" of rain in <24 hrs. That washed about 3' of dirt back into the pond.

We had some significant rainfall during the renovation, and we trucked approx. 2,000 cu. yd. to my parents place which is 7 miles away, so that took some time too. We didn't work at it 8 hr a day, it was worked on during the weekends and after work. It took from May until the middle to the end of August to complete. I think we lost a few weeks to machinery breakdowns.

I would fire up the 3" semi-trash pump at 5 am, we'd start digging around 3-4 pm and work 'till about dark. I'd shut the pump off then, and fire it up again in the morning. There was about a week where we needed 2 pumps because of the rain.

All the dirt was spread out around the property, so that took a lot of time too.
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#413595 - 06/01/15 07:11 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: redclay]
Mike Otto Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 144
Loc: Texas
The least amount of water you can deal with the better. Worked on a ground water lake in Florida. Equipment worked in the water the material was like beach sand the pans picked up the material and hauled it off. But the pump still worked 24 hours a day. Most of the time equipment must be kept out of the mud and it can only handled with trackhoe and dump trucks. do not get it to big of a hurry to start with there will be plenty of time to rush once the dirt starts moving.

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#413605 - 06/01/15 09:38 AM Re: high water table and an excavator [Re: Mike Otto]
fish n chips Offline


Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 2315
Loc: Northeast Ohio
Originally Posted By: Mike Otto
The least amount of water you can deal with the better. Worked on a ground water lake in Florida. Equipment worked in the water the material was like beach sand the pans picked up the material and hauled it off. But the pump still worked 24 hours a day. Most of the time equipment must be kept out of the mud and it can only handled with trackhoe and dump trucks. do not get it to big of a hurry to start with there will be plenty of time to rush once the dirt starts moving.


Oh how true it is!!!!!!!!!

I am surprised when I here folks like Eshhup mention that they worked on weekends or such. When it came to me, I felt it needed to be kept at it. My feelings is once you start pumping, and the work/time it takes to do, once its ready, get 'er done and don't keep redoing the work to be able to work again. I suppose this all has to do with how much water you have flowing in, size of equipment you have to work with, and multiple other factors. I was into the pond renovation by a year or so, and the one summer it just wanted to rain, rain, rain. Kind of gave up and did little chores to be prepared for next round. Next year came, I thought that I would get a good chunk done and I did. Weather was dry, and I thought to myself, if I stop now to finish next month/year, it will take twice as long( a month?) just to get it back to were I leave off. Sooooo, like you said Mike, MOVE THAT DIRT WHEN TIME IS RIGHT... and be prepared for that period of time.

Side note- the guy who gave me advice talked about a pond he built where the dirt removed was like a thick oil sludge because of the water content. He was dumping it at the edge of a hill and it would slide/run down the hill, kind of like lava. The hill had all sizes of trees on it. By the time he was done, the hill was cleared of trees. They all snapped off from the mud slides! I had a few truck loads that were this way. Dumped them, and they spread out 40' away! Couldn't go back to that spot for a while!

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