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#463606 - 02/10/17 03:43 AM Determining where a pond is leaking ??
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon

1) Dug (11'deep) and dammed (11' high) pond
2) Leaking in several spots along the toe of the embankment in one area of the pond. The higher the water level, the greater the leak.
3) Leak slows to almost nothing when pond level is half full

How do you determine if the pond is leaking near the bottom and coming out the toe - and slows due to less water pressure when pond is half full OR the leak is in the inside wall and subsides because water level is lower than where the leak may be ??

Trying to determine where to attack the problem.
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#463618 - 02/10/17 07:43 AM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
DonoBBD Offline


Registered: 06/13/12
Posts: 1664
Loc: Ontario, Canada, Eh.
How many frost cycles has the moved dirt had to pack in?
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#463629 - 02/10/17 11:25 AM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
Bob Lusk Offline
Editor, Pond Boss Magazine
Lunker

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2939
Loc: Whitesboro, Texas
This sounds like poor compaction.
A good pond builder, especially an 11 foot tall dam, builds the dam in lifts. They'll excavate to hard pan, either thick clay or bedrock on which to use as a foundation. Then, they go up, in six inch lifts, compacting each lift tightly. Bulldozers can't compact. Sheepsfoot rollers, steam rollers and heavy, rubber-tired pan scrapers can compact.
It's not unusual for a lift or two to be improperly compacted, especially if the operator is inexperienced.
If that's what happened to you, the source needs to be identified. That source isn't necessarily where the water flows out. Water seeks the path of least resistance.
Since you describe the dam as 11 feet high and was dug 11 feet deep, to me that means your total depth is 22 feet. If the pond drops 11 feet, which is the bottom of the dam, that suggests the dam wasn't cored properly.
If my assumption is true, digging a core trench along the inside slope of the dam and properly backfilling and compacting it with a trench compactor with solve that problem.
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#463634 - 02/10/17 12:17 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 3903
Loc: SE Kansas
Pond Star, let me first state that what Lusk says sounds right and he is a professional and has seen lots of "wrongs" to back up his opinion. He is an expert. His fix is probably the "best" approach.

I am definitely not an expert but do not lack for opinions. So take my thoughts for what they are, a non expert opinion and use accordingly.

If you can locate the wettest part of the leak, run your hand/fingers, a broom handle end or back side of a round nosed shovel over the area paralell to the dam. Watch what you see. If you do not see a lot happening there is some hope that I will describe below. If you see the smoothed over surface puddle up and/or muddy streaks cross the smoothed area there is "flow" and not a lot of hope. You have a leak as opposed to what I would call a seep.

If you have a leak and water is flowing, the most probable result is going to be additional erosion. If you get additional erosion the leak will only get worse and eventually even dam failure.

If it is just a seep, even if the seep covers a large area, there is at least some hope that it might partially or fully heal itself "some day".

Let me stop and say right here that if money is of little object, time is very important, and patience is not your strong suit stop reading right here and procede with Bob's recomendation. Bob has the pleasure of working with some clients that are pretty well set and when he or Otto do something, they do it "right" because their reputation and business depends on it. Some of the rest of us? Well funds are more limited, we have some patience, and sometimes we just like to see what happens.

If your pond is only seeping, there is a chance that over time it will mostly heal the seep. If you are willing to put off a year your goals with a "wait and see" attitude, that is what I would do. Two things can happen. Sediment in the pond water can help fill some of the seep "voids" and slow the leak while at the same time if the dam was not properly compacted nature can cause setteling (compaction) over time.

In our area we have an untold number of ponds thrown up with nothing other than a bull dozer. But these are quarter to half acre cattle watering ponds. They are in small "waste land" pastures that are not suitable for farming. If the cattle owner were to build the pond "properly" as described by Bob Lusk, he might as well sell the cattle because the pond would likely cost more than he could ever expect to profit from the cattle. Do these cheap, hastily created ponds work? Well in our type soils they do....... most of the time. But it is not at all uncommon for the base of the dam to seep either for a while or even permanently. A lot of them never seep also. My old refurbished pond was cleaned out by my dad 50 years ago when I was a kid. It had always seeped at the base of the dam till I refurbished it. But we have a high enouh rainfall pattern it did not matter. The pond watered the cattle which is what it is designed to do. It was not built for a recreational pond, although there was plenty of swimming and fishing done in it. I always had to be careful mowing the pasture if it was a wet season or the tractor would get stuck there.

Point is to this long winded diatribe is that if you are willing to wait, the pond leak MAY slow to nothing or to an acceptable level. IF.....IF water is not "flowing", only seeping. If money is not an object, get it fixed right before you stock fish.

My unexpert opinion only.


Edited by snrub (02/10/17 12:25 PM)
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#463636 - 02/10/17 12:35 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
canyoncreek Offline


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1403
Loc: West Michigan
a seep can sometimes be slowed significantly with a properly executed polymer sealant at very low cost and very little hassle. Read threads on soilfloc

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#463645 - 02/10/17 01:23 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7646
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Pond Star worked directly with Aquaben on treatment plan, his product floated and apparently was not effective. I hopped in an helped as much as I could from my position over the course of 3-4 months, multiple conversations to try and help, I think it ended up being resolved. I guess this was before Aquaben began advising folks to use sodium bentonite as a sinking agent to prevent drifting...I sure knew nothing about it at that point as a possible solution for floating product. Bottom line, the Soilfloc treatment was successful. It's one of 3 projects to date [of which I'm aware] when product floated and did not improve leak rates by at least 50%. While we're still operating at a 90% confidence level, and Pondstar was not my client, this is one of the projects I still cite as unsuccessful.

PS has to either live with the leaks, re-engineer the ponds, or go another round of Soilfloc. I don't any of these options are appealing to him at this point, and I totally get it. frown
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#463646 - 02/10/17 01:28 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
canyoncreek Offline


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1403
Loc: West Michigan
TJ, thanks for jumping in. A little soilfloc floats at first but ends up sinking eventually. Do we know why his product floated? Was it water conditions, wind, pH, hardness etc?

The part A and part B of the polymer are pretty fine granules although if I recall the part B could be a little larger granules. I wonder if he ever decided to redose the soilfloc what would happen with a little more course grind, or some other way to make a mixture with other sinking particles to create a current of water going down (suction)

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#463650 - 02/10/17 02:26 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
John F Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 1114
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Make that four unsuccessful Soilfloc treatments. I don't count mine as a success. Slowed leak at first, but I don't see it as a long term fix. My fix is pumping, but we are now in a historic drought.
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#463652 - 02/10/17 02:56 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7646
Loc: Lincoln, NE
John I didn't work on your project to completion, so I'm not aware of the details other than what you've posted to the forum. Per my post I am identifying 3 projects where polymer floated - did your product float? IIRC you applied a pail of product, which is either 1/4-1/2 a unit, and worked directly with Aquaben regarding application method and strategy. Polymer must remain hydrated to remain activated - if water level is allowed to drop below the leak that's going to be a problem once refilled - not sure if that occurred here or not. Constant head pressure also seems to be a key for sealing. In terms of success, I consider anything over 50% reduction a success. Entirely possible your expectations for your investment may have been a tad assertive? At any rate I go to great lengths on the forum and during my volunteer consultations to manage expectations - one critical element is reiterating and stressing the detail that multiple applications may be necessary and it's not a silver bullet. All data on this product is important for us to share as we're still in the preliminary research stages, so thanks again for sharing your pail project results.
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#463653 - 02/10/17 03:06 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: canyoncreek]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7646
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Originally Posted By: canyoncreek
TJ, thanks for jumping in. A little soilfloc floats at first but ends up sinking eventually. Do we know why his product floated? Was it water conditions, wind, pH, hardness etc?

The part A and part B of the polymer are pretty fine granules although if I recall the part B could be a little larger granules. I wonder if he ever decided to redose the soilfloc what would happen with a little more course grind, or some other way to make a mixture with other sinking particles to create a current of water going down (suction)


PS has posted his experience on the forum somewhere, sorry can't find it now, but IIRC he ordered coarse grind due to his accelerated leak per Aquaben recommendations, and a very significant % of the polymer floated and drifted to shorelines. At that time Aquaben was not recommending bentonite application if one noted floating product, that was introduced later and this coarse grind project [and Scott Hanners] served as the impetus for it I believe. The 3 projects I'm aware of with significant floating polymer were all using coarse grind. As a result I no longer recommend coarse grind application and also to stop if one notes floating product and employ a sodium bentonite application when one resumes application.

I don't know what causes product to float - could be a coarse grind characteristic, could be manufacturing variable, water temp or water chemistry or a combination of all these elements. Now I inform folks to have a source of sodium bentonite identified prior to application just to be safe in case they need to run to the COOP. I'm still learning new things on every project, and one critical detail we still don't know is the lifespan of the polymer.
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#463654 - 02/10/17 03:15 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7646
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Jeff, PS project is detailed in this thread, page 9 is some of it, with photos of floating polymer.

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=31902&Number=445693#Post445693
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#463655 - 02/10/17 03:16 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: DonoBBD]
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: DonoBBD
How many frost cycles has the moved dirt had to pack in?


I am in a somewhat temperate climate - so no frost cycles - pond/dam is now three years old.
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#463656 - 02/10/17 03:23 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: canyoncreek]
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: canyoncreek
a seep can sometimes be slowed significantly with a properly executed polymer sealant at very low cost and very little hassle. Read threads on soilfloc


I did apply a bag of both A and B of the regular grind Soilfloc to the problem area - but did not notice any improvement. Later applied bag of the "coarse grind" A and B - most of it turned to pea size hard globs and floated for two weeks till I netted it all out. All of this was before the recommendation of using bentonite during the application.
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#463657 - 02/10/17 03:39 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7646
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Did the fine grind have drifting issues also, or did it sink? Sorry don't remember.
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#463658 - 02/10/17 03:45 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Bob Lusk]
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
This sounds like poor compaction.
A good pond builder, especially an 11 foot tall dam, builds the dam in lifts. They'll excavate to hard pan, either thick clay or bedrock on which to use as a foundation. Then, they go up, in six inch lifts, compacting each lift tightly. Bulldozers can't compact. Sheepsfoot rollers, steam rollers and heavy, rubber-tired pan scrapers can compact.
It's not unusual for a lift or two to be improperly compacted, especially if the operator is inexperienced.
If that's what happened to you, the source needs to be identified. That source isn't necessarily where the water flows out. Water seeks the path of least resistance.
Since you describe the dam as 11 feet high and was dug 11 feet deep, to me that means your total depth is 22 feet. If the pond drops 11 feet, which is the bottom of the dam, that suggests the dam wasn't cored properly.
If my assumption is true, digging a core trench along the inside slope of the dam and properly backfilling and compacting it with a trench compactor with solve that problem.


Bob-

Can a defective core trench be helped by pasting and compacting more clay to the inside and bottom of pond ? FYI - pond builder only used a bulldozer for compaction work- which (despite my pleas) appears to have been a big mistake. So trying to decide whether to compact what is already there (despite losing advantage of doing it in 6" lifts) and then adding more to the bottom and side and compacting that in 6" lifts -- or spending the $$ redoing the core trench.
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#463659 - 02/10/17 04:24 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: teehjaeh57]
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Did the fine grind have drifting issues also, or did it sink? Sorry don't remember.


Hi TJ

The fine grind did sink - after an hour. TINY breeze (it does not take much) caused first app of fine grind to head for the shore line which I pushed back out into the pond with a leaf blower.
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#463661 - 02/10/17 05:06 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1742
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
A core-trench on the backside of the dam (above the water line) rather than the inside basin may be effective as well, only you don't need to drain the pond and wait for it to dry to do it, only perhaps lower it to the non-leaking level.
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#463662 - 02/10/17 05:11 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: teehjaeh57]
John F Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 1114
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
John I didn't work on your project to completion, so I'm not aware of the details other than what you've posted to the forum. Per my post I am identifying 3 projects where polymer floated - did your product float? IIRC you applied a pail of product, which is either 1/4-1/2 a unit, and worked directly with Aquaben regarding application method and strategy. Polymer must remain hydrated to remain activated - if water level is allowed to drop below the leak that's going to be a problem once refilled - not sure if that occurred here or not. Constant head pressure also seems to be a key for sealing. In terms of success, I consider anything over 50% reduction a success. Entirely possible your expectations for your investment may have been a tad assertive? At any rate I go to great lengths on the forum and during my volunteer consultations to manage expectations - one critical element is reiterating and stressing the detail that multiple applications may be necessary and it's not a silver bullet. All data on this product is important for us to share as we're still in the preliminary research stages, so thanks again for sharing your pail project results.



Yes, much of it floated to the bank in the slightest breeze. Dead calm when applied. Slight breeze came up. Throwing Bentonite on it made it sink better, but not enough. It helped for a while, and then leaked the same after a few months. I kept the pond near full as long as I could after application....5 months. Since then it has dropped to 38 inches below full pool, then back up to 9 inches below full, now dropping again in our extreme drought. Today we have near 70 degrees with high winds and humidity 40%. Not good.
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#463663 - 02/10/17 05:16 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
John F Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 1114
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
[/quote]
Can a defective core trench be helped by pasting and compacting more clay to the inside and bottom of pond ? FYI - pond builder only used a bulldozer for compaction work- which (despite my pleas) appears to have been a big mistake. So trying to decide whether to compact what is already there (despite losing advantage of doing it in 6" lifts) and then adding more to the bottom and side and compacting that in 6" lifts -- or spending the $$ redoing the core trench. [/quote]

Has anyone tried dynamic compaction? Seems like it would work, but might be fairly expensive. A crane drops a flat weight, moves, drops it again. Google the words "dynamic compaction".
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#463674 - 02/10/17 07:45 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 3903
Loc: SE Kansas
Originally Posted By: Pond Star
Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
This sounds like poor compaction.
A good pond builder, especially an 11 foot tall dam, builds the dam in lifts. They'll excavate to hard pan, either thick clay or bedrock on which to use as a foundation. Then, they go up, in six inch lifts, compacting each lift tightly. Bulldozers can't compact. Sheepsfoot rollers, steam rollers and heavy, rubber-tired pan scrapers can compact.
It's not unusual for a lift or two to be improperly compacted, especially if the operator is inexperienced.
If that's what happened to you, the source needs to be identified. That source isn't necessarily where the water flows out. Water seeks the path of least resistance.
Since you describe the dam as 11 feet high and was dug 11 feet deep, to me that means your total depth is 22 feet. If the pond drops 11 feet, which is the bottom of the dam, that suggests the dam wasn't cored properly.
If my assumption is true, digging a core trench along the inside slope of the dam and properly backfilling and compacting it with a trench compactor with solve that problem.


Bob-

Can a defective core trench be helped by pasting and compacting more clay to the inside and bottom of pond ? FYI - pond builder only used a bulldozer for compaction work- which (despite my pleas) appears to have been a big mistake. So trying to decide whether to compact what is already there (despite losing advantage of doing it in 6" lifts) and then adding more to the bottom and side and compacting that in 6" lifts -- or spending the $$ redoing the core trench.


It should. If you cover and compact the full face of the dam this should be just like installing a clay liner around the shore line in new construction.

I had not realized that your pond is three years old so any of my advice above is already water under the bridge.

I think if I were going to the trouble of facimg the imside of the dam, I would just go all the way and drain the pond fully, compact the entire basin while adding a clay facing to the inner part of the dam, compacting it properly.

It would be terrible to face the front of the dam only for the leak to slow but find some of the leakage was coming from the basin too.
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#463682 - 02/10/17 08:59 PM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
John F Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 1114
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Your pond is deep enough without the dam. Could it be expanded somewhat by excavation?
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#463698 - 02/11/17 12:34 AM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: John F]
Pond Star Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: John F
Your pond is deep enough without the dam. Could it be expanded somewhat by excavation?


Not really - when we got down to the end of the pond where the problem is, we hit shale. Brought in the clay and put it over the top of that in hopes of sealing - so would not want to go digging back down into that.
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#463704 - 02/11/17 07:37 AM Re: Determining where a pond is leaking ?? [Re: Pond Star]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 3903
Loc: SE Kansas
You might want to compact it though. If the clay cover did not get mixed and compacted well enough, the layered shale could sure leak water.

Once the water traveled horizontally through the shale, hydraulic pressure could force it up behind the dam. Not saying that is what is happening, only that it might be a possibility.


Edited by snrub (02/11/17 07:41 AM)
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