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The site that I would like to build a pond has farm tiles running under the surface. All the contractors that came out said that I should just leave them as a source of incoming water, and leave one on the opposite end open for an overflow pipe. Are there any reasons to be concerned with this? I'm wondering if chemicals or an abundece of fertilizer would enter my pond and cause problems.


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What is a farm tile?


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Farm tiles are pipes that are about 4' under the ground that help farm land drain. I'm guessing these are 4" diameter, similar to a culvert. I hit one digging a test hole, and am guessing we will hit about three more after digging a 1 acre pond. My main concern is really for my kids as I would like to use the pond to swim in as well as fish.


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I have a 43 acre cattle and horse farm in central Ohio. Three years ago we put in a 1 acre pond. Most of our land, including all of the pond site and the entire watershed, is drained by field tiles like you are asking about. Specifically, they are the old style clay/ceramic tile 1- or 2-feet in length that are (loosely) fitted together, not the current corrugated plastic style. I can see three things you need to be concerned about with respect to field tiles: (1)water flow, (2) sediment & clogging, and (3) chemicals.

(1) Remember the purpose of the field tiles is to drain fields quicker than surface runoff and natural percolation would allow. This means you may get no more water through the tiles than would flow into the pond if the tiles weren't there, but it will probably flow in faster. I would suggest putting in a size larger drain pipe they would normally be called for by the size of your watershed and local rainfall (say going from a 6" outlet to an 8").

(2) Your particular tiles MAY be at risk of introducing extra sediment into the pond, or they may be clogged from years of sediment that have settled in them. The tiles on our farm are clogged any where from 20% to 75% of their capacity after 75 (?) years of use. Looose fitted ceramic field tile is very susceptible to breaking and cracking (tractors and farm machinery getting bigger and heavier since the tile was installed), resulting in potentially large holes at the surface. Check the status of the tiles and surface in your watershed. If you have no or few holes, and if there is good grass cover, you probably will not have too much sediment. We don't.

Due to problems with clogging and cracking, I would not want to rely on existing field tile for the outflow from my pond. Eliminate existing tile on the downhill/dam side and install new drain pipe, sized by an experienced pond designer or Soil & Water Conservation Agent (or go a size larger, like I said above).

(3) What chemicals have previously been used on the watershed? What is being used now? If the land that drains into your pond was no-till farmed for a long time, you may have chemicals leach into your pond from underground, even if no new chemicals are being applied. Our land has not seen serious chemical usage for a long time, if ever, and I don't worry about subsurface "stored" chemicals. ALL pond owners need to be concerned about current chemical usage in the watershed, but personally I would rather have a working farm drain into my pond than a golf course or upscale subdivision, which usually have high rates of chemical usage.

Boy, that turned out long-winded. Hope it is usefil info.


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Great stuff Theo, Thanks!


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Yes good job Theo!


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Hello Everyone!Just thought that I would jump in here and give my pennys worth of advise.It is possible to use these tiles but you have to take some steps to make sure that you avoid all the stuff that was menioned.Like making sure that you don't let the water run straight from the tile to the pond.This is done by filtering the water by running the tiles into a sediment pond or thru a long run of thick grass.It has to be on the high side of the pond for these tiles are for dranage so make sure that all tiles are sealed that are under the water level or you will never get the water to come up to desired levels.If you have plenty of water I would recomend that you run these tiles around the pond and skip the extra steps.Good luck! doc


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Update: I talked to the guy digging my pond and discussed the farm tile issue again. He still suggests leaving them as inflow/outflow to the pond. According to him, the pipes will surve as a way to circulate water through the pond, and he also said that the level will not be effected that much from the tiles because the water will basicly reflect the water table anyway. By the way I have a high water table and the water will be coming in from the top few feet as the bottom is a heavy clay. He also said we will know more as we start digging and can adjust things if need be.


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