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#552078 09/11/22 11:36 AM
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I had a pond built a year and a half ago. I can't get it to hold water. The builder said he did not hit sand. I was on sight when it was built and never seen him hit sand. I do have some wet spots on the levee but don't see any running water. I have been trying to fill the pond with a 2 inch well. It will fill and then it starts loosing about a inch of water per day. The pond has been pumped out and bottom reworked. I can't see any visual leaks. I have put 2 pallets of bintonite in it with no change. It was limed when it was built. I did have some places in the levee that sank after it was first built, but that has been repaired. The pond was built with clay. Can someone please give me a idea where to go from here?

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With the info you gave, my guess is poor compaction. Did they put in a core trench? Do a search on here about Soilfloc and reach out to Teehjaeh57.


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No core trench. When he xug the test holes he said one was not need. He said that the hole levee was built from lay. I have had the pond empty three times. He worked.on the levees and worked on the bottom of the pond. Still no change. The pond is 3 acres. He said keep pumping water in it and it will seal. I pumped.water.in it for 30 days to fill it. Now it like I'm pumping it.in as fast as.it runs out. My pump puts out about 125000 gallons a day. The pond only comes up about 1/2 a inch a day, now that it stated back leaking.

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Dumping clay on top of clay doesn’t often work. These things need to be knitted together. But, I curious about where the water is going.


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Originally Posted by Beyond the pond
No core trench. When he xug the test holes he said one was not need. He said that the hole levee was built from lay. I have had the pond empty three times. He worked.on the levees and worked on the bottom of the pond. Still no change. The pond is 3 acres. He said keep pumping water in it and it will seal. I pumped.water.in it for 30 days to fill it. Now it like I'm pumping it.in as fast as.it runs out. My pump puts out about 125000 gallons a day. The pond only comes up about 1/2 a inch a day, now that it stated back leaking.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can pump all the water you want and it won't seal itself. Tell the contractor that you will pump all the water he wants you to pump providing that he pays for the electricity and a new pump when it wears out. See what he says.


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At this point the contractor has blown me off. I’m not getting anything else from him. He said the levees aren’t leaking so it’s not his problem. He said some ponds just don’t hold water. But the levees are seeping water and I payed to have a pond built. Not going to rant about him. So what should I do from here? How can I fix the pond? I don’t want to give up, but I have no idea what to do or try next. I’m not a pond builder. That’s why I payed someone to do it. If I were a pond builder how would I fix it? I have a lot of money and a lot of time invested. I don’t want to give up. At this point I will have to pay someone to push in the levees.

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If you stop pumping water, will it drain completely?


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It has the past several times. The only water that will be left is in the deep spots. The bottom of the pond will be hard as a rock. No soft spots.

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When empty, can you tell where the water is going?


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Beyond the pond,

Sorry to hear about your leaking pond!

The fact that it drains almost completely does suggest a "bottom leak" rather than a levee leak.

However, it is possible to have a bottom leak without ever excavating to sand. You may have gotten very unlucky and you have a sand layer or stringer just a few inches below the clay at some spot in the bottom of your pond.

The bottom of the pond should have been excavated 1-2' DEEPER than the design depth to discover all of the sand deposits, old tree roots, and large rocks. It is then back-filled with good clay, moistened, and compacted in 6" lifts. The bottom clay blanket should be at least 1' thick on a pond with a water depth of less than 10'. (Even thicker is better if you have enough clay material.)

If the pond is deeper than 10' at full pool, then it probably should have a bottom clay blanket of at least 2' thickness.

How deep is your pond by design? Do you have "extra" clay in the levees that comes from the spoils that were excavated from the pond site? If so, then one option is to dig up the bottom of the pond to find your leak (probably in sand), and then re-seal with good clay and proper compaction equipment.

Unfortunately, that option is going to be expensive. As mentioned above by Bob, TJ does have a remedial process that frequently works for leaks like yours. Hopefully, TJ will drop into your thread when he gets caught up on his fall projects. (If you don't see him reply in a few days, then you might want to send him a private message to look at your post.)

Good luck on turning your "leaky hole" into a pond!

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Thank you all for the help. The pond original had a 13 foot deep hole at one end and the middle was 3.5 foot deep. The second controller came out and cut the high spot out and filled the hole in. It is now 9 foot deep in the hole and about 5 foot deep everywhere else. There was no visible signs of the leak. We put down bintonite and he put clay over it. He put it I. In 1 foot lifts and packed it. We added bintonite before every lift. I never have found any visual signs of a leak. One of the levees does have a few wet spots, but no water running. If my math is right, I am loosing about 100000 gallons a day. I think that is a lot of water and I should see it running out. I do have a ditch that runs along the backof one of the levees and it has trees along the ditch bank.i did look up soil flock. If my math is right I would need about 20 thousand dollars worth to seal the leak. I have about 40 already invested. I have very little money left to spend on this project. If soil flock is what has to be done, I will have to abandon this project till I can get more money.

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Did you renovate/enlarge an existing pond, or have you already had two contractors work on a new pond build? If there was a pre-existing pond, did it hold water?

Unless the high spot was for fish structure, then they may have left it because they were encountering some sand in the bottom at that location?

Pushing out the high spot may have caused the leak since they probably packed clay in the deep spot when they filled it. However, if the slopes of the high spot were not blanketed and packed, then that could be the source of the "bottom" leak if the water entry point is low enough.

I have read several threads on Pond Boss where large amounts of water were leaking from a pond, but some damp ground was the only evidence (other than the water loss).

It is amazing how much water trees and grass can take up from the ground. We have a creek on our property that is tied to the level of the groundwater. It would actually rise in the fall. For the first few years, I would go out to work and note the higher water level, and assume I had missed seeing some rains. It turns out, that the groundwater level would rise substantially after the first hard frost made the trees and prairie grass go dormant.

It sound like your pond project may be on hold for a while due to budget constraints. If possible, I would recommend re-filling the pond again in November? Maybe you can walk your ditch after letting the pond leak for several days and see if you can spot the water to gather a little more info.

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If you can narrow down the leaking area some then you don't have to treat the whole pond when using Soilfloc.


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The pond is all new construction. I have has 2 separate containers work on the pond. The high spot was left there for fish structure. Both contractors told me they didn't see any sand anywhere. Both said I had great clay for pond construction. The pond does not get filled from run off. It has to be filled with a pump. The levees completely surround the pond. I got in the ditch today and walked it. There is some water in the ditch. I didn't see anywhere that water running. I think the water in the ditch was from the rain we got 2 days ago.

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You indicate that the pond is 3 acres and that you can pump 125,000 gal/day. An acre-foot is 325,851 gal, so 3 acre-feet is 977,553 gal, and 3-acre inches is 81,463 gal., so you should be able to add over 1.5" per day if adding 125,000 gal. If you are only able to add 0.5" per day with 125,000 gal, then a lot seems to be leaking out, even considering the need to saturate the soil and evaporation. Are others getting the same numbers? Does this look like a big leak to others? However, you indicated that you filled the pond in 30 days (at 125,000 gal per day), which is a total number of gallons of 3,750,000, which would add about 3.8 feet to a 3 acre pond with no leaks or the slope of the pond basin must be very shallow. I must be doing some of the calculations wrong or am making a flawed assumption? I am thinking that it is the slope of the basin that accounts for the majority of my numbers not being a good estimate? In the end, if its leaking, then somewhere in the basin, the clay liner must be broken. BTW, my 4th pond has a leak, but I know that I had sand veins which I apparently did not seal up well enough, so I can sympathize with your situation and wish you well. In my case, I'll wait a couple years before investing in polymer because there are no guarantees.

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Yep. Pond leaks are a pain in the posterior.

Step one is to correctly identify the problem. That is often very difficult to achieve.

The correct subsequent steps depend on getting Step 1. right.

Sometimes it is not even possible to identify the problem and you just have to treat the "symptoms".

If you can't exactly pinpoint your leak, another option is to "scarify" (disc or till) the bottom as deeply as possible to break up the existing flow paths. Then wet the churned subsoil and compact as heavily as possible with a towed sheepsfoot roller or with a self-propelled vibratory soil compactor. (The rental for a Caterpillar CP563 is only $1,000/day in my area, but it will cost you more than that with trucking.)

You might be able to compact the bottom of a 3-acre pond in two days(?) if you had a helper that was wetting areas in front of you. That MIGHT seal your leak. If it didn't, then I think any partially sealing that resulted would only help a soilfloc treatment work better. (I would definitely talk to TJ before investing any more time/money.)

There are some dirt contractors on the forum that could give you more accurate information on the method I described above.

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RAH I don't think you're numbers are wrong. The reason for the pond filling so fast the lT time, was we got a total of 9 inches of rain over 3 days. We also got 4 more inches the next week. I have frinds that have ponds around me. They say in the heat of somer they have to run there pumps around 24 to 50 hours a week to keep there pond full. One has a 1/2 scre pond, one has a 2.5 acre pond and the third never runs his pump. He is lucky. His pond is spring feed.

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A couple thoughts, Im no professional but that amount of water leaving an area is a big flow, I built a pond a yr or so ago and had a sink hole under it, the pond would fill up and then go back down swiftly to that one level, we wound up finding the sinkhole and were able to repair it and the pond is now full, my point is, it sounds to me like you have water going out thru the bottom to possibly a sand or gravel layer and it may be running a long ways under ground before it surfaces, if it ever does.
I dont think that it is going out thru your dam, with that volume of water you would be able to find your leak in a dam in like 10 minutes, 1 big question is how low does the water go to before stabilizes? at that elevation you will find source of your leak, theoretically, a leak of that size, running for any length of time should leave one heck of a hole. usually a big leak such as you are dealing with is much easier to find then a small nuisance leak. correcting it tho may be a different story. Good Luck!


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gehajake #552169 09/14/22 05:04 AM
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My leak situation may be less common, but the sand layer that I hit is in the bottom of the pond, but the pond level stabilizes just 4' below full pool. I think the sand vein/tube must rise up in elevation somewhere down-slope from the pond (like a drain tube with a high spot). If it does not seal itself within the next 3 years, I may be contacting TJ for help.

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RAH's situation is a good example of the natural variability of the sediment deposition that creates the sub-soils for our ponds. Every leak is going to be somewhat unique.

However, in that type of scenario, if you knew exactly where the water was exiting the pond, you could excavate a single narrow trench with just a backhoe or small excavator outside of the pond boundaries. If you successfully exposed the edges of the sand body, you could excavate an extra foot, and then backfill your trench with lifts of compacted clay. You would create the equivalent of a "core trench" just to block the pathway that is causing the leak.

In the real world, it is difficult to determine "exactly" where the leak is going, but it is possible.

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In my case, I attempted to seal an entire core trench, but the "quicksand" and cave-ins made it hard to get a pure clay barrier in place. I knew at the time what the risks were. My objective was primarily to create good wildlife habitat, and I seem to have achieved that. A well sealed pond would have been even better.

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RAH,

Was the pond still full when you were trying to perform that work, or would you had to have dealt with quicksand regardless, due to "outside" groundwater also saturating your sand?

I am hoping the OP can re-fill his pond this fall and pinpoint the location of the leak. Hopefully, that would make it fixable within his budget, unless your experience indicates that even the "small" fix might require big work to accomplish.

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Pond had never been full at that time but was under construction. Pond had a bottom drain, but "quicksand" was below that level. Water seemed to come from a subsurface source, but not the aquifer (rather "springs"). I suspect an ancient creek bed or multiple beds that filled over time from surface water. I was working with a small dozer and a backhoe.

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Thanks for the additional info, RAH.

I have wet sand of variable thickness on top of wet clay. Our near surface aquifer is as dry as it has been in the last 10 years. I should be out starting my pond projects, but I can't get off from my work and family obligations!

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