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#497546 - 10/16/18 10:09 AM Water Loss During Initial Fill
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
We purchased a property in upstate South Carolina with an old watershed pond that had never really filled up. I would say it is 14 years old. The soil has a lot of red clay content with no obvious signs of cracks or holes. At full pool, I would estimate it to be 12 ft deep and shaped in a V, so the water depth decreases quickly toward the end of the pond. I estimate the size to be ¼ acre.

We have been pumping water from the creek to fill it over the last month. On average we pump two to three days per week at 7,000 GPH for roughly 10-12 hours. We are in the process of upgrading our pump system to a 20,000 GPH unit. Currently, we are losing 3-4 inches per day after filling a new area. It does slow down after it leaks down to an area that has been filled for a few weeks.

I would like to hear thoughts on the water loss. I think some of the loss should be attributed to the vegetation and soil absorption. I have read on the forum to give a new pond 6 months to one year before taking drastic measures to correct a leak. There are no signs of water loss through the dam.

Pics are below. Thank you in advance. JB


Attachments
1st.PNG (84 downloads)
2nd.PNG (66 downloads)
3rd.PNG (60 downloads)
4th.PNG (72 downloads)
5th.PNG (77 downloads)


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#497547 - 10/16/18 10:19 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
RAH Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 4243
Loc: Indiana, Boone County, 25 mile...
If you have good clay, you might consider draining it dry and going over it real well with a sheepsfoot. I put in a bottom drain in the 1/2 acre pond that I dug last year in case mine did not seal. But even with very very little watershed, it was less than a foot below full-pool even during the driest weather this summer. It did take quite a while to fill though, but I will likely never see the emergency spillway get used even with only a 6" main drain. The little sheepsfoot roller was a good Craig's List buy for me.


Edited by RAH (10/16/18 10:20 AM)

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#497550 - 10/16/18 10:42 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 843
Loc: West Central Missouri
Welcome to the forums JB!

If I am understanding you correctly, the pond has never filled up over the course of 14 years?...

I suspect that a pond will fill up to, or better put, drains down to the lower section of the breech. If the pond has typically had, for example, only one foot of water in it then the leak has to be low in the hole (somewhere along the shoreline of that one foot of water and possibly well above it). If the entire pond bottom is absorbing the water instead of one leak channeling it elswhere then the clay content is weak.

Just my thoughts as I am no pond builder, but I would be curious to know if it holds water at all under normal conditions (no pumping) and at what depth will it maintain.

Pond banks (and beyond due to capillary action)will absorb water at the shore line as the water depth increases, but if the pond has not filled over the course of years, the water is leaking/soaking out somewhere.
_________________________
Fish on!,
Noel

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#497551 - 10/16/18 10:53 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Quarter Acre]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
We have owned the property for 8 months. The pond has always leaked completely out. Even in periods of heavy rain, the pond would fill 1-2 ft then slowly drain dry in a few weeks. I assumed without new water being added that the soil was absorbing the water.

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#497554 - 10/16/18 11:27 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
RAH Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 4243
Loc: Indiana, Boone County, 25 mile...
Its leaking

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#497575 - 10/16/18 10:31 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: RAH]
John Fitzgerald Online   content


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2040
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Yes, that's a bad leak, like through gravel or sand.
_________________________

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#497585 - 10/17/18 06:57 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
john kelsey Offline


Registered: 04/15/12
Posts: 134
Loc: mi.
When they dug the pond they might have cut a field tile.

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#497592 - 10/17/18 09:34 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: john kelsey]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
Can you explain what a field tile is? I could not find a reference on the web.

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#497593 - 10/17/18 09:36 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: John Fitzgerald]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
We did not see any gravel or sand in the test holes we dug. It all looks like red clay. I am guessing a complete drain is in order based on the comments in this thread.

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#497595 - 10/17/18 10:01 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
nehunter Offline


Registered: 07/20/15
Posts: 92
Loc: NE
I do not see any type of drain. Could it rusted off or ran over with a mower. Most dams have some kind of drain. Could be broke off and draining your pond. Go to your local USDA office and ask about your pond, a lot of ponds are built with matching funds from the government. If so they would know more about your damn.

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#497596 - 10/17/18 10:33 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
There is no "correct" drain pipe in the dam. I was told by the previous owner that the pond was cut to overflow at the corner of the dam. There are a bunch of small 4" diameter pieces of plastic pipes in the woods that look like scraps. I can only assume that longer sections are buried at one corner of the dam. I do not think the government was involved at all in this pond construction.

I do not see any evidence of water around the backside of the dam. It has to be leaking at the bottom.

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#497601 - 10/17/18 11:42 AM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 843
Loc: West Central Missouri
Field tile drainage systems are often used in farm fields to eliminate standing water. There are basically underground drain piping, could be like French drains, or just a pipe (with trash guard) running from the bottom of a low spot to an area the can handle the extra water.
_________________________
Fish on!,
Noel

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#497604 - 10/17/18 12:02 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 843
Loc: West Central Missouri
Your last photo looks like you have it pretty full. At this water lever, a loss of several inches a day should produce a wet spot down hill somewhere...unless it hits a long underground vein of gravel/permeable earth. Underground water travel can be very tricky.

I would guess you have one of two scenarios (or maybe a combination of the two). 1.) Your pond bowl is made up of permeable soils and the water just weeps out everywhere. 2.) You have a vein at the bottom taking the water away.

I have read of folks performing the "bucket test" to determine if the clay is worthy of using in the bottom of a pond. Do a Google search for "Pondboss bucket clay test" and you'll get some reading on the subject.
_________________________
Fish on!,
Noel

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#497607 - 10/17/18 01:24 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
I will expand my search this weekend to areas further downhill. It should be leaking +-44,000 gallons at 2" per day.
I will complete the bucket test on several areas as well.

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#497621 - 10/17/18 05:08 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
John Fitzgerald Online   content


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2040
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Water that goes into the ground can travel a long distance before ever surfacing, or may not surface at all.

On Bull Shoals Reservoir in N. Arkansas, there is a sinkhole in the Jimmie Creek arm where water enters well below normal pool level for the lake, and surfaces about four miles downstream, below the dam on the opposite side of the river.

You could put non toxic tracer dye in the pond after pumping in several thousand gallons, and see if you can find it emerging somewhere, maybe in a nearby creek.
_________________________

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#497622 - 10/17/18 05:20 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
I have looked at the data form the USDA Web Soil Survey site and I have the exact soil composition as the other 25 ponds in a five mile radius.
My entire pond site is : MaE—Madison sandy loam, 15 to 25 percent slopes. If I am reading this right, clay is in the lower level.
Typical profile
Ap - 0 to 6 inches: sandy loam
Bt - 6 to 34 inches: clay
BC - 34 to 46 inches: clay loam
C - 46 to 79 inches: clay loam
The website does not suggest that this soil type is suitable for a pond, however; every other pond in the area has the same soil type.
What gives? How are there so many ponds in this type of soil? They are literally everywhere...

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#497623 - 10/17/18 05:22 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: John Fitzgerald]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
I will look for dye options.
We do have a creek about 400 ft below the pond.

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#497631 - 10/17/18 08:16 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
RAH Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 4243
Loc: Indiana, Boone County, 25 mile...
Not sure if finding where it surfaces is much use in fixing where it leaks out of the pond, unless it is real close to the pond.

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#497648 - 10/18/18 12:47 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: RAH]
Mfitzs70 Offline


Registered: 07/30/17
Posts: 39
Loc: OH
I'm wondering if it was never made to be a pond but like the OP said a water shed. It may not have a proper liner of good clay to seal. Might be who ever built it used it to collect and get rid of water rather than hold it. Could possibly clean it up dig to depth an correctly line to make a pond. Just my opinion.

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#497650 - 10/18/18 01:27 PM Re: Water Loss During Initial Fill [Re: Hidden Acres]
Hidden Acres Offline


Registered: 10/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: South Carolina
Mfitzs70, I must have used the term incorrectly. I meant that the pond was dug with the intentions of runoff/water shed filling it up.

I spoke to the original grader who built the pond and he said it only made it to half pool before he stopped checking on it. He also wanted 6-10K to redo/fix it. I passed on that offer. I wanted to pump water into it to see if it would hold water before I spent additional money on the pond.

I planned to use a pump to fill it and keep it topped off, so that cost was a given. If it keeps leaking, then I will address remediation. It looks like my options are ESS-13, Soilfloc, WaterSave Seep or Plug, Bentonite, or better clay compaction.

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