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Thanks in advance for any help and advice.
I have a half acre pond that leaks badly and is now dry.
It was built 20 years ago, and the builder used some local clay on the deepest part, but not the entire pond.
The pond has gone dry the last couple of summers, leaving huge cracks in the clay.
I have a well and solar, so can refill the pond somewhat.
The soil is very rocky with thin soil and huge volcanic boulders, which probably leak
It's down a steep hill, so hard to get equipment and material in and out.
Which should I consider:
1. Rototill and sheepsfoot to compact the cracks and pray? If it doesn't work, reconsider.
2. Use free local clay to supplement the existing clay?
3. Buy 2 truckloads of bentonite and try to get it downhill
4. Use SoilFloc?
5. Rubber/plastic liner, if I can get it down the hill
Thank for your help!

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Run the calcs to see how much it'd cost you to get the "free" local clay properly moistened and compacted with a sheepsfoot roller. A liner could be used, they have geotextile liners that hold water very well, aren't that heavy and are VERY puncture/tear resistant. Look at https://www.btlliners.com/


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Thanks. I'm pricing liners now. My pond is about 250'x80' and 12' deep. It is steep down to the pond from driveway with a dirt path. What equipment is needed to move/install the liner? Thanks for your help.

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Lusk and Otto have written several articles in PB mag about liners. Contact the PB office to see about getting copies. As I recall, they pretty well covered the topic.


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.

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Thank you, Dave. I'll get in touch.

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Originally Posted by speedypete962
Thanks. I'm pricing liners now. My pond is about 250'x80' and 12' deep. It is steep down to the pond from driveway with a dirt path. What equipment is needed to move/install the liner? Thanks for your help.

When you are pricing liners, ask them what the quoted liner weighs. The one from BTL is pretty light weight compared to others and it's TOUGH.


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I've been down the road of a leaking pond and still trying to solve the puzzle.

Given the conditions you stated above, I would go the route of a liner and use an underlayment as an extra barrier because of the rocky soil. If you have boulders, clay won't do much good unless removed or buried deep. I wish I would have gone this route, but was talked out of it by my 2nd contractor. I have used a lot of polymer and would not recommend it.

Rolls of liner weigh up to 2500lbs so a mini excavator or bigger skid steer will be needed to unload. You will need to dig a ditch on top of the bench 6-10 feet from the high water line and "tuck" the liner under 18"-24" of soil to hold it in place. Slopes should be no steeper than 3:1 or less so it doesn't stretch and tear with the weight of the water. Welding the seems is key to the install, so be sure to take your time.

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Thank you for sharing your experiences. Very helpful as I consider my options.

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Thanks everyone for your help and advice. TJ spent hours with me on the phone and has been incredibly helpful as I think through my options.

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I once asked Mile Otto about leaks. He said that the best way to be sure a pond leaks is to let him build it. He told me “Get over it. Dirt is porous and water gets through it.”.


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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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
I once asked Mile Otto about leaks. He said that the best way to be sure a pond leaks is to let him build it. He told me “Get over it. Dirt is porous and water gets through it.”.

That is true, BUT how MUCH it leaks per day is the question. Dropping 1" per day above evap rate to me is not acceptable. Dropping 1/8" per day over evap rate would be.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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First of all, I’d like to add to the rest of you and express a huge THANK YOU to TJ Hudson and Drew Hay.

I had a similar problem, a ½ acre pond in Napa, CA which we use for firefighting (god forbid more wildfires again) and irrigating a small vineyard. We’re on rocky, sandy soil with many rock outcroppings that was leaking as fast as I could pump water in from my well. TJ started by helping me sort through all the sealing options and generously spent a lot of time with my endless questions and alternatives.

I considered and tested 5 different materials using the “holes in a bucket” leak test at
I tested local “free clay”, bentonite clay from several sources against a one part polymer and two part polymer like SoilFloc or TJ’s SeekLeek. The polymer expanded to many times it’s original size and became a sticky, gooey, gelatinous blob that comprehensively plugged all of the holes in the bucket. Test passed, so I decided to go with TJ’s SeekLeak. It was cheaper then SoilFloc and I got TJ’s priceless advice and support so it was the only sensible choice.

I ordered 8 units of SeekLeek and while waiting for it to come, TJ introduced me to Drew Hay, who is a real pond construction expert and very generous volunteer to PondBoss members. Drew described his tried and true “Oreo Method” for using polymer in a dry pond. It involves laying 6” of compacted dirt/clay down, followed by a thin layer of polymer, followed by two compacted 6” lifts of dirt/clay to seal in the polymer and create an “Oreo Cookie”. Drew magnanimously answered many questions from my contractor and me, and we followed his recipe to a T.

It’s only been a month since we finished, with little rain, but I’m filling the pond from my well and it is holding water far better than it was previously. I’m hopeful that it will rain soon and we can report back that SeekLeek and the Oreo method was successful. Based on what I see now, it should be a complete success.

Huge thanks to TJ and Drew, else I would have had a rocky mudpit forever. I’ll keep the forum informed as we go through a hopefully rainy winter.

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Awesome! Was a great adventure and happy to be a part of building new leak abatement science every day! Anyone else needing any help feel free to contact me anytime. My time is always free to my Pond Boss family and I’m happy to help however I can.

tj@hudlandmgmt.com


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

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