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#459014 - 11/11/16 01:57 PM New pond sealing
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
Hi- just had new pond dug. the soil was primarily sand down to about 50" when we hit solid blue/grey clay for the rest of the pond depth.
here is my question, the seam where the sand hits the clay is leaking water into the pond which seems great as its starting to fill the pond already, i packed this seam with some of the clay spoils but can't get it to completely stop shaping water in a few spots. Its not a lot of seepage, but still continues to leak water into the pond. should i worry about this?

#459016 - 11/11/16 02:13 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
Custom 68 Offline

Registered: 05/09/14
Posts: 116
Loc: Springfield MO area
I know others will also chime in but the problem seems to be when the pond is full. If it is coming in then it can go back out the same way. I think most on here will agree to get it to stop otherwise you will need to contend with it when your water table level drops.
Good luck
1 acre pond.

#459025 - 11/11/16 06:16 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
John Fitzgerald Online   content

Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2060
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
If you don't seal it your pond will stay below the sand seam in dry weather. You should probably dig it out and pack it with as much clay as you can, up to 2 ft thick.

#459028 - 11/11/16 07:12 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
what about floc-seal?

#459032 - 11/11/16 07:22 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
or is it possible that these small leaks will seal them selves ?

#459035 - 11/11/16 07:30 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
canyoncreek Offline

Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1897
Loc: West Michigan
I'm not a pond builder but If this is a new pond then I'd be asking those questions of the person you paid to dig it. It sounds as if the sand/clay boundary needed several layers of compacted clay, properly done, to seal. If this person was not experienced but rather was just a dirt mover, they may not know this or may not stand behind their work. But after reading lots of stories like yours on this forum the word of wisdom always seems to be, not so costly to do it right the first time, hugely expensive to try to fix it later.

This is probably a tough time of year in MI to be draining, drying and trying to repack clay into your pond. But the pond digger really owes it to you to get it right. It seems you have lots of blue clay onsite so you could get the proper sheepsfoot compactor, dig a hole to produce a supply of clay and start packing it properly but not before you discuss who is paying for what.

I would describe the polymer sealants as useful 'band-aids' that may slow it down a fair amount but no one really knows how long that band-aid works either and the further you get into it, the more frustrated you are, the more you wish you didn't have to pump water into it, and the more you wish you had got it fixed right, right away.

Oh, and it sure is good to see more pond owners from MI join. Tell us more about your pond, location (woods, fields, groundwater vs with a dam and a watershed) and what your goals are for the pond?

Pictures would be great too!

#459043 - 11/12/16 06:05 AM Re: New pond sealing [Re: canyoncreek]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
Thanks for the advice. I will call them to discuss.
The pond is a groundwater pond, 60x150'
The first 50"were topsoil/sand/sandy-loam- then a block of clay.
Contractor did nice job cutting ledge into center channel that runs through pond as I asked him to create some details since it was basically like modeling clay.
IF it fills to grade, it will be 17-18 feet through the center channel, then average of 8-10' throughout, other than a lesser graded area for swimming at one end.
I plan on aerating it, and stocking it with minnows in the spring, than fish in the fall from Imlay City Fish Farm.
Not sure on the fish yet.
Had berm build surrounding the pond on 2 sides with the spoils, plan on planting switch grass on berms for more privacy/wild life and some sort of food plot on the west side. Pond is cut into woods so trees are going to be a factor.
Thats about it.

#459089 - 11/13/16 09:26 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
liquidsquid Offline

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1938
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
My first thought would be to dig a core trench around the perimeter of the pond down to the clay layer, and back-fill the trench with packed clay rather than building it up inside of the pond basin. Just not sure of the cost difference. Just a thought.

#459119 - 11/14/16 06:21 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: liquidsquid]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
Here's the latest,
My now ex-pond -contractor/dirt mover would/can not pack the side of the pond. He feels he has done what he has promised and is finished....O well. Lesson learned.
I called another company who specializes in ponds and from whom I also got an estimate from to possibly pack the sides.
He said over the phone that he would have to install a liner which totally puzzled me because when he came out to give me an estimate he gave me a price and mentioned nothing about a liner. He said his reason was that he usually finds clay 1 foot below grade and in my case (clay 50" below grade) packing clay would only eventually crack and leak anyway. This seems contrary to what I read here. He said he would have informed me that I needed a liner (a 7000.00 extra) and if I could not afford it he would have filled the hole back in and gave me my money back.
So heres plan C
I am going to rent a mini excavator with a small bucket and a compactor and
go for it myself
I have dug several footings, piers, and been in heavy construction for nearly 30 years
My question is
Should i go for the packing plan of several thin layer of 6" compacted to a thickness of 1 1/2 '
or try the trench method. By the trench method recommended above I am assuming a bucket wide trench around the perimeter of the pond packed with clay.
I could do that on 3 sides but on one of the long sides i would have to go for the packing method.
the reason for the compactor is that the banks are too steep to drive anything.

Thanks for all the advice....

#459129 - 11/14/16 10:31 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
canyoncreek Offline

Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1897
Loc: West Michigan
What a bummer! and how frustrating that it seems that nearly 3 out of 4 people who have ponds built hire dirt movers who all say, Oh, yeah I can build a pond for you, and then something always seems to give grief later. I seriously am beginning to wonder how many pond builders really can do a good job... are there only enough in the US that you could count them on 2 hands?

It seems like this suggestions was thrown about before but cannot we make a list on the PB forum somewhere of pond builders who TRULY know how to do it right (and hopefully will stand by their work and come back and fix it if needs be?)

I'm hoping the pond building experts will come back with their advice, but over and over I've read here that a mini excavator, a bulldozer, or just about anything with tracks or wheels will not have enough compacting power to compact a pond. It takes a special piece of equipment and the right process. It sounds like only a handful of people who dig ponds have the right rollers to do the compacting. I find that so hard to believe that you can be in the pond building business and still think you can just use a bulldozer and track hoe or a vibrating compactor.

But perhaps if you can identify the leak and get get several compacted layers of clay you can in this case take care of it yourself.

My pond is a ground water pond but was never created to hold water like a bathtub The street water overflow goes into the pond and the goal was to have it naturally seep away out the sides or bottom. Although there was a fair amount of clay in the bottom there clearly was sand/gravel veins too. When I had it dug out I could have hauled clay in and tried to compact it but the budget didn't allow and it was out of the scope of my main priority at the time. I used soil floc with pretty good success, but I would say your plan to fix it right now with clay while you can makes good sense.

Edited by canyoncreek (11/14/16 10:39 PM)

#459131 - 11/15/16 05:53 AM Re: New pond sealing [Re: canyoncreek]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
I can see where the leaks are, the soil consisted of about 50 inches of topsoil/sand/sandy-loam and then turned literally to solid clay, like a giant piece of modeling clay for the rest of the pond.
it it leaking right at the seam of sandy-loam and clay.
My tentative plan will be to use the clay spoils to pack and then compact the clay from 12" below the seam to grade.
I have a metal fabricating shop so I'm wondering if I can fabricate an attachment plate for the bottom of the compactor to turn it into a "sheepsfoot-like" compactor. i understand the sheeps-foot works to roll and knead the clay and the compactor just uses vibration and mass but???
any thoughts?
at this point the compactor seems my only cost-reasonable choice.

#459299 - 11/19/16 07:38 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
OK. talked to contractor, he was less than co-operative so I rented small excavator and went to it myself.
Dug out the the old "clay" the contractor said he "packed" in and found that he didn't really pack it in at all or even get all if the old sand out. At the locations of the most noticeable leaks, I found veins of sand through the clay.
I dug out 3 sides so far and pack 2' of fresh, dry, (well mostly dry) clay in its place in 2 x 12" layers , compacting with HOPAC on excavator.
So far it seems to have stopped all but 2 tiny little seepages which seems pretty decent.
only thing left is to do small beach area which i wasn't going to do but i have 2 days left on rental so I might as well.
Is it correct to assume all dug ponds leak a little?

#459309 - 11/19/16 09:47 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
snrub Offline

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5282
Loc: SE Kansas
I'm a little confused. You said it was a ground water pond and also said that you had put a berm around the pond.

Groundwater ponds fill from the ground. Water flows in and out through the ground. How does your pond fill? Runoff? Well?

I don't have any experience with ground water ponds. Just going by what I have read here on PBF. But some of the things you said are confusing to me of what you are expecting from a ground water pond.

Some of the guys with ground water ponds will be by soon I bet. Maybe they can shed some light.

I subscribe to Pond Boss Magazine

#459378 - 11/22/16 03:03 AM Re: New pond sealing [Re: snrub]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
The berms were made with the spoils and sit a ways back from the pond edge, they don't make up the pond edge. the edge of the pond is even with grade.

#459446 - 11/23/16 11:41 AM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
esshup Offline
Field Correspondent


Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 24029
Loc: Grovertown, Indiana
Another option would be dig a trench around the pond down to the modeling clay layer. Drop a liner, roofing membrane, plastic sheet, etc. vertically in the trench all around the pond, sealing any seams from the clay layer to the top of the soil. Backfill with dirt. That's what one county NRCS does here when they have a leaky pond. Pond might not seal 100%, but it will leak a LOT less than what it does now.

They said they do that when clay and machinery isn't available. They can do that in a narrow trench as long as the sides don't collapse.

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

#459483 - 11/23/16 07:37 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: esshup]
58er Offline

Registered: 10/30/16
Posts: 22
Loc: Michigan
Thats a good idea.....
I got her packed up the best I can with a solid 24" clay from the clay layer up to grade in 2 separate lifts. Before the reworking of the banks it leaked quite a bit in quite a few spots and now thats not happening so hopefully its fine.
All thats left is to wait for it to fill.
Now on to the next batch of questions.......
Thanks for all of the great input on this.

#486312 - 02/19/18 02:22 PM Re: New pond sealing [Re: 58er]
CraigJL Offline

Registered: 02/23/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Columbus, Michigan
So, it's been a while. Curious how the fix turned out? I live in SE Michigan and have the same soil. I bought my house in 2012 with the.6 acre pond with the same problem. It's beautiful in the spring but as ground water drops so does my pond. Previous owners brought in a few truckloads of water to bring the level up just before selling, bless their hearts. I'm learning a lot though haha. I've looked into bentonite clay as you have done and liners. I was told ground water would push the liner around as well as the clay, which makes sense. I have a backhoe, just not a solution I'm sold on. Pond is 15-20' deep max. I've considered seawall sections but that's a lot of work and expense but I could do it myself. I'm leaning toward a trench around the perimeter down to the clay then putting a plastic, rubber, or clay liner or combination but wanted some experienced feedback on it before committing. Lots of large trees close by which is probably giving problems from root growth now and in the future so clearing some out is probably on the horizon.


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