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#510218 - 08/13/19 12:31 PM Self-built 3 acre pond
ml4958 Offline

Registered: 08/13/19
Posts: 2
Loc: MO
I thought I would share my pond building experience with you all, I hope that someone finds it useful. While on vacation last summer, I was inspired by a VRBO rental cabin that we rented along a lake on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, this is where my dream of a large pond directly behind the back of my house began to take shape.

I bought 20 acres in southwest Missouri from my father to build my dream house and shop for my growing family. We planned to start building in the spring, so this gave me enough time to start on the pond. The property slopes about 15 feet from the house site to a 5 acre bottom land area next to a dry creek, Using Google Earth, I roughly calculated my watershed, talked to neighbors and a local pond builder to get advice on soil types, expected expenses and the probability that the pond would hold water. After digging some test holes and fixing up my fathers 1974 Cat D7 dozer, I decided to take the plunge and started removing topsoil at the end of December, 2018.
I had fewer than 20 hours experience on a dozer of any kind, but I spent my evenings and weekends pushing as much dirt as I could throughout most of the spring. I endured several minor breakdowns on the dozer and a very wet spring that slowed me down considerably. My original intent was to remove the topsoil, then turn the project over to an expert to build the dam. Due to the rainy weather, my pond builder was booked a couple months out, so I kept pushing dirt. Once springtime rolled around, I had made enough progress and felt comfortable enough on the dozer to go ahead and build the dam myself.

The site had up to 3 feet of very dark topsoil. Even though I had dug test holes, I didnít understand how much dirt Iíd need to move. After the majority of the topsoil was stockpiled or spread out, I started at the shallow end of the pond and started building the dam. This section of the land contained very rocky soil mixed with red clay. I began to wonder if Iíd hit the right type of clay to seal the pond. Eventually, I got into over an acre of solid, rock-free clay over 3 feet deep. This was a huge relief and gave me hope that I could make this project work. As I continued to build the dam, I encountered several seams of gravel, most likely from the dry creek shifting over the years. I dug out the seams and filled them with clay and hoped for the best.

I compacted the bottom of the pond with a smooth roller that weighs about 7k pounds, then I spread an average of probably 10 inches of the best clay I could find over the entire pond and inner banks and rolled it again several times. I debated using a sheepsfoot and decided that the blanket of clay I had was compacting well enough to avoid the expense.

At this point, I have completed the dam, the bottom, and have spread topsoil around edges. I am still working on the spillway and plan to build a dock before it fills. Since I closed the dam, we have received about 2 inches or rain over 30 days. I have about 8 inches of water in a small area of the deepest part of the pond, so it appears to be holding water. Iím keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for rain.

All told, I have about 150 hours in dozer time. It burns 8 gallons of diesel an hour, so I probably have $5k in fuel, oil and repairs. I hired a skid steer operator for about 40 hours at $60 an hour, so another $2500 there. It looks like the surface area will be between 2.5 and 3 acres at full pool. Deepest part is a little over 8 feet, most of it is 7 feet with the shallow end at 4 feet.

Itís been a fun project, very rewarding, but Iím glad to finally be off the dozer!. The forums and articles on this site have been invaluable to this process. I appreciate everyoneís willing share information. I couldnít have done it without you.

Iíve attached several drone pictures below in chronological order. Check them out and let me know what you think. Iíll post more pictures as it fills if there is interest.

1.JPG (270 downloads)
3.JPG (224 downloads)
4.JPG (204 downloads)
6.JPG (186 downloads)
7.JPG (175 downloads)
9.JPG (191 downloads)
12.JPG (202 downloads)
14.JPG (279 downloads)

Edited by ml4958 (08/13/19 12:44 PM)

#510221 - 08/13/19 12:59 PM Re: Self-built 3 acre pond [Re: ml4958]
Redonthehead Offline

Registered: 04/03/07
Posts: 247
Loc: Missouri
Great looking project! I was also fortunate to have my FIL with a Komatsu dozer and tractor to pull a cousins scraper. Just fuel and sub sandwiches!

It appears you built the dam alongside the creek rather than across it. What is your estimate on pond watershed?

What are your plans for primary and emergency spillways? Would love more photos!

#510230 - 08/13/19 02:06 PM Re: Self-built 3 acre pond [Re: ml4958]
ml4958 Offline

Registered: 08/13/19
Posts: 2
Loc: MO
Thanks Redonthehead, glad to hear there are others crazy enough to try something like this!

Yes, I didn't want to cross the creek with the dam, so I got as close to it as I could. Guessing I have 80 acres watershed. I'm sure some will say that's not enough, but with time I'm confident it will fill.

I plan to put a siphon system in to keep my water level stable and build a concrete and rip-rap overflow on the shallow end.

#510232 - 08/13/19 02:14 PM Re: Self-built 3 acre pond [Re: ml4958]
RStringer Offline

Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 434
Loc: Parsons KS
Welcome neighbor. Wish we could send some of the Kansas rain your way. Looking pretty good can't wait to see full pool pictures.
The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag.

#510235 - 08/13/19 02:51 PM Re: Self-built 3 acre pond [Re: ml4958]
Redonthehead Offline

Registered: 04/03/07
Posts: 247
Loc: Missouri
In west central MO the NRCS told me 15-20 acres of watershed per acre of pond. So you probably have more than plenty at 80 and perhaps better error to a larger primary pipe diameter.

With a properly designed dam you should be able to use a grassed emergency spillway. Concrete sounds spendy.

In my MO county the NRCS ran all the calculations and designed it for no charge.

#510263 - 08/14/19 11:03 AM Re: Self-built 3 acre pond [Re: ml4958]
Bobbss Offline

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 467
Loc: Jefferson County Missouri
I look forward to seeing more pictures. It is always great to see someone's dreams take shape!

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