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#488461 - 04/11/18 03:06 PM Another Pond Sealing Situation
DrewG Offline

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 5
Loc: NW Arkansas
OK pond-miesters, I have a pond sealing issue I'd appreciate your thoughts on. To start with, I'm a new member here, but have read other posts on the subject and know about hiring the right person to locate, dig and compact on the front end. I had my NRCS office conduct a sight survey and got a good report back on the location. Finding an outfit to dig AND compact was another story. 99% of the pond builders in my area of NW Arkansas only use a dozer. And the large excavation companies with the equipment to compact it don't have time for a little half acre farm pond, and want $2,500 a day - well above my budget. So I went with an experienced earth mover who has built a number of ponds successfully in my immediate area and knows the soil and lives 15 minutes away.

So here's the scenario - we dug the pond in December under near drought conditions during the fall. We hit good clay to work with about 3-4 ft down and the builder felt very confident in the soil composition and compaction. The finished project looked solid and I added creek gravel to the bottom, habitat and aerator. We did not get any measurable rainfall for two months. During that time, we had severe freeze and thaw cycles on the dry pond bed and dam. By the time it did rain (5" in two days), the clay on top was definitely fluffy for 3-4 inches from the freeze and thaw cycles.

The pond filled completely up and was flowing out of the spillway with force. Everything worked perfectly. Over the ensuing 30 days no rain, and the pond dropped 9-10 feet. We had the second rain event March 27th and 28th with 5" and the pond filled again to within 12 of max pool on the gauge (picture attached). Over the past 14 days, it has dropped 54". Talk about disappointment.

My builder is saying try to be patient - we dug in dry conditions and the dam and surrounding soil are probably sucking these first two fillings out. But the clay should swell and seal. I'm sure many of you have been in this situation, so looking for thoughts on my unique circumstances. Trying to add an image next

Edited by DrewG (04/11/18 04:18 PM)

#488463 - 04/11/18 03:12 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
DrewG Offline

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 5
Loc: NW Arkansas
Images attached

Pond drop after second filling 4-12.jpg (88 downloads)
Feb 24th 18.jpg (73 downloads)

Edited by DrewG (04/11/18 04:15 PM)

#488468 - 04/11/18 03:49 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
John Fitzgerald Offline

Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2139
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Same story with my builder on my pond renovation, no compaction except with dozer. We have good clay. He did not make a core trench, and the pond leaks down about 30" after every fill. It leaks at the dam-bowl junction. I may have an excavator dig a core trench on the back side of the dam this summer in dry weather if funds permit. If I had it to do over, it would have been very different. The builder would have rented some sort of compaction equipment. In retrospect, I am so frustrated, I should just have had it filled in and made part of the hay field.

Soil floc treatment did not work for me.

#488469 - 04/11/18 04:04 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: John Fitzgerald]
DrewG Offline

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 5
Loc: NW Arkansas
So far, I have no visible seepage at all below the dam. I'm really hoping to have a good month of rain soon. Was wondering if anyone might suggest pumping it dry and adding bentonite. So many variables every pond owner faces.

Edited by DrewG (04/11/18 04:20 PM)

#488472 - 04/11/18 04:31 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
liquidsquid Offline

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1941
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
From what I see that is a lot more water loss than simple wicking or absorption. It looks to be a leak. It really could be anything though, and possibly even a sand/gravel seam that was missed during construction.

If I were you, I would pump it out a bit at a time, using a little pond dye or simply stir the bottom if you can see where water is going. The most likely candidate will be the junction of the dam to pre-existing soil. If no core trench was dug, then any debris such as gravel, topsoil, etc could make an easy exit path for water. If you are able to locate the leak, you may be able to get the builder back out to do something about it.

You are lucky you don't have fish to worry about, fix the leak first.

Another option is to use your available good clay to line the pond once empty, and rent a compactor and re-compact it. If you can find or rent a tow-behind sheep's-foot roller, you can drag one of those with anything with sufficient power and traction.

#488477 - 04/11/18 05:03 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
John Fitzgerald Offline

Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2139
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Bentonite does not work unless you mix in thousands of pounds, and compact with a roller.

#488479 - 04/11/18 05:42 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
RAH Offline

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 4283
Loc: Indiana, Boone County, 25 mile...
While digging a pond in a drought can be a blessing, clay must have sufficient moisture in it to compact. That is why many plate compactors have a water tank and sprayer. Even a sheep's foot roller will not compact dry clay. If you can drain the pond, the clay will now be wet, maybe too wet, but if a couple feet can be removed, dried out some, and then added back in 6-inch lifts, each being compacted, you can probably seal it up. For reference, the half-acre pond that I built last year has creeped fuller all winter with the small watershed, without ever dropping, and just today started trickling through the outlet pipe. I am a bit paranoid with sealing up the ponds, and still I put in a drain in the bottom in case it leaked and I needed to do a repair. I did this pond myself because it is so hard to get some dirt guys to seal things up, even when they agree to do so before hand. Cannot find a good pond guy in my area since the fellow that built my first pond retired. I went through 4 contractors to get my second pond built and don't want that stress anymore. Now I can run a dozer, but that is not what I wanted to do, just didn't have a choice if I wanted more ponds.

#488480 - 04/11/18 05:49 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
John Fitzgerald Offline

Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2139
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
There are no pond guys that I know of in this part of the state. ALL of them just want to push up dirt with a dozer, level it off, smash down the clods, and call it good. With the last pond, I had them go over the entire basin and dam with a large backhoe with a loaded bucket. I also made sure they scraped down to a good clay base before starting. The pond leaked through the dam for a year, but seems to have sealed now, after a summer of heavy haying equipment being driven on the top and back side of the gently sloping dam.

My first pond is a total loss, as far as I am concerned at this time.

Edited by John Fitzgerald (04/11/18 05:51 PM)

#488486 - 04/11/18 10:56 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
teehjaeh57 Online   content
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7972
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Hi Drew

Feel free to reach out anytime I have helped a lot of Pondboss family address leaking ponds. Happy to help in any manner I can.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

#488646 - 04/15/18 10:57 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: teehjaeh57]
DrewG Offline

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 5
Loc: NW Arkansas
Thanks TJ. I'll give this pond more time. My builder says they will make it right but really feels confident in the clay and their build. So hopefully I can contribute more information that wil help others in the months ahead.

#488734 - 04/17/18 11:19 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
thedford Offline

Registered: 03/09/12
Posts: 15
Loc: MO.
I am having the same problem. Post here if you end up getting it fixed.

#488906 - 04/20/18 04:15 PM Re: Another Pond Sealing Situation [Re: DrewG]
Bobbss Offline

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 385
Loc: Jefferson County Missouri
DrewG,I'm kind of in the same boat as you.My pond was built last August and we went straight into a 6 month long draught, before I got any real rain.Mine has never been anywhere near full yet and doesn't drop as fast as yours but drops to fast to stock.Mine is dropping slower this time than it did the first time it came up.Did yours drop slower the 2nd time?I feel for you!I know first hand how it feels to wait for it to fill (6 months), only to have it drop back down.I hope to hear your having better luck soon.I'm sure your like me, and thought you would be stocking around now.

Edited by Bobbss (04/20/18 08:48 PM)

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