I would appreciate your views on something I'm considering. I have a contractor working at my property with a large Excavator. He said he could clean out a fair amount of silt in a days time. He can dump it on site so that speeds things. My questions are if he only cleans and deepens part of the pond will that help with the constant algae problems I'm getting from being real shallow. Pond is about an acre and varies in depth from about 5' to 2'. I have 2 of RC51's aeration systems running and I also put in 1000 Bluegill in some early spring and some a week ago. Also, Am I going to lose those fish from him stirring up the bottom? Thanks!
Since time may be of the essence in making use of the guy there, I will mention a few things and hopefully the more knowledgeable guys will weigh in when they get a chance.
From what I understand, algae is formed from having nutrients in the water. Removing some of the muck would be getting rid of those specific nutrients, but if more get into the pond on a continual basis, you probably will still have algae. Stirring up the muck may release gases(sulfur?) that could harm fish if they can't get away. Perhaps he should limit areas he works on and do it over several days?
With only a 5' max depth, I would think you can run the risk of killing some fish now, or risk killing them later with a winter kill if you get a hard, long freeze.
Given the opportunity, I would go for the cleaning out.
Now, having said that, I'm not from your area and am not familiar with your soils. We can dig a hole "here" and it will hold water 95% of the time. Your area might not have that luxury, so better get some advice from people that know the soils and ponds of your area. You might clean out only to have a leaky pond. Don't want that.
For what it is worth, I took our own TLB and used the backhoe to go 2/3 the way around (all but the dam) of our refurbished old pond after it had filled. Poor planning on my part but all the work I do with my own equipment and own time, so it is all part of the hobby anyway. So after I had bull dozed it out and built a new dam over the old one and it filled, decided the lay of the land it could be a bit bigger. So with water in it, used the backhoe to dig out another 6-8' all the way around the perimeter that included several feet out into standing water. As far as I could tell, I never killed any fish. Did not see any floaters anyway. I did it in two different times a week apart, first one side, then the other. It stirred up a lot of clay and made the water murky. It has to stress the fish, "breathing" all that cloudy water through their gills.
I just have to question, at your latitude, how successful a 5' deep pond will be throughout the years of avoiding a fish kill, especially if you try to push production with additional food and aeration.
Just my opinion. Not an expert and actually a novice at this, so my opinion worth what you paid for it. Some guys with a lot more experience and more close to your locality should be along shortly.
Good luck with whatever you decide, and please, keep us informed of how it goes should you proceed. We all learn from other experience so share it. We like pictures.
If it was my pond, I'd pump the water down so there was 2' in the 5' depth. Place a few of your diffusers there. Have him build a dam or pile earth so the water doesn't run out of that area.
Check for a clay liner under the muck. If one is found, only clean out the shallow areas that are above the water level down to the clay liner. If no clay liner is found, then dig it all out down to a depth of 12' or even 15' if possible. Make sure that no sand veins are found, and have him compact the dig out area with something like a sheepsfoot roller, not the tracks on the dozer or excavator.
Breach the dam that he made, let the water and fish go to the new "deep" end of the pond, and clean out the muck that remains, making that previous deep end the shallow end. Again, check for a clay liner and pack the pond bottom when finished.
That route minimized the stress on the fish, allows you to save a majority of the fish and is easier for him to dig because he can see what he's digging. If the areas that he is digging out start to fill up with water, use a 3" or 4" (or larger) trash pump to keep as much water out of those areas as possible.
No way the excavator could not compact with the back of his bucket as he goes? I can see problems getting things dry enough to run a tractor and sheepsfoot, not to mention various steep banks here and there that might end up being.
I've never ran an excavator, only a TLB, but I would think an experienced operator could do quite a bit tamping and mixing with the back of his bucket as he is clearing the muck out, if he is instructed to do so.
I suppose a lot would depend on the material he has to work with.
Thanks all. Looks like I might be biting off more the I want to chew, from a price standpoint. The pond is difficult to access and would require driving equipment on 2 others property and the removal of a couple trees just to access about half the area. I guess I'm curious on the packing the bottom comments. Since the sides aren't compacted why would the bottom need to be? I can find the bottom by probing through the muck until it hits. If we disturb that hard clay bottom would it leak? Say dig it down another eight feet. I know everywhere we have been working on the property we get water at about four feet. We have been running drain tiles, installing a septic, etc.. I like essups idea but that would take additional time and at a much greater cost. This guy has built a few ponds, one on his property, 2 acres, 20' deep. He did not seem too concerned on removing muck, but I have not ask about deepening. Do you think deepening might cause an issue? This may also be why there were no fish in the pond when I bought it. Previous owner said it was full of fish, but that was not true. Thanks
I was going to mention as snrub and esshup did, that renovating the whole thing would be the best since it is only 5' deep. Going thru the clay bottom and digging it deeper is really the same thing/question. Like snrub mentioned, it really is about what type of soil you have all the way down to what would be the finished depth. Some areas of the country are lucky with their soil types for this, others are not and there has to be a liner packed after being dug. You say that water is at 4' down, so it might be that if you went past the current pond bottom, the whole water level may drop to that level as a norm. What does your excavator guy say? If he has done enough pond in your area, he may have enough knowledge about this to guide you.
Not having fish in there is probably a sign that it is to shallow to keep fish over winters, especially as they get bigger. That is one reason I would highly consider just digging some portion of the pond deeper. Make use of the guy while he is there. Kind of a compromise between doing nothing and going all the way with it. It would let you see if you lose all the water, and if not, would give a spot for some of the fish to survive the winter. You might open up a big headache tho, needing to fix it next summer if it doesn't work out. It's a gamble either way. Having been thru it myself, renovating an existing pond is more difficult than building a new one.
Originally Posted By: esshup
He might be able to pack a small area, but I doubt that consistently packing a larger area would be very cost effective.
I've seen sheepsfoot rollers that can be pulled by a dozer, but you are correct, it all depends on the slope and the traction that is available.
I have also seen sheepsfoot rollers that attach to the excavator where the bucket goes. Pretty neat...
Thanks! I have reached out to a prior owner of the pond as he had it built. I'm going to try and get original depths, bottom type, and find out if he had any issues with it holding water when he built it. I will also talk to my excavator about his experience with the soil types in this area and if he would have concerns cleaning but also digging it down deeper in the areas he can reach. He did tell me as he starts to clean the muck, muck in other parts of the pond will start to run towards him. That seems to make some sense to me??? Ideally if that is true removing a lot of muck and digging an area deep for fish safety in the winter, may solve some problems for awhile. Thanks again for continued input, i appreciate it.
Sorry for the delay returning. Storms hit us pretty bad and we had a huge mess to clean up on the property and at home. I spoke with the excavator, who had to move to another job by the way, and he felt he could easily find the bottom and make a huge difference in the condition of the pond in a couple days. He also thought we should dig down and make the shallow end the deep end. Had no concerns on the soil holding the water. I also spoke with the guy who originally had the pond built. It was 10' at the deep end and 6' at the shallow. He had it cleaned for silt once and was having it done again with a guy who had a drag line. This guy got about halfway done and disappeared leaving his crane. The crane sat on the property for 2.5 years until one day it was gone. This explains the hump I have in the middle. Long story short, I'm going to have him clean the muck he can and dig a section down to maybe 15' or so. This might allow for a longer time before it silts back in again.
Scott, why is there that much sediment coming into the pond? Do you have a creek or streambed coming in that brings it? If so, you might want to have the guy create some sort of settling pond before the main pond that can be cleaned out easily with a small piece of equipment once a year.
There is a creek, 250' or so, leading into the pond. It is fed by several farm fields both from underground tiles and surface. Most recently the fields have be switched from corn and beans to alfalfa. This I think would help. Could I create a settling pond where the creek is to help? How big would that need to be? I actually have a low area next to the creek I was going to fill to eliminate the flooding, but maybe I should dig it out more? Thanks
I have a surface spring that flows constant and when it rains, it can change into a raging river. What I did is create a pool before it goes into the pond. A quickly built dam separates the two. There are pipes at different levels, so the more the water comes, it has the ability to increase its flow thru the dam. I did not want a single large pipe because I wanted to slow the water movement down some, and the pool can back-up on many acres. This lets some of the sediment to fall before it enters. On top of this dam is a overflow bed that is a covered with gravel for those big rain events. Make sure you have enough area to park equipment to clean it out(backhoe and dump vehicle) and the pool small enough to reach the whole thing from edges.
Here is a link to some nice pics of what member catmandoo has done.
I know there are other past threads about this, and if I can find them I will add it here.
Thanks. So from reading that link I would need another dam between the two ponds? That might be pretty costly as that area is wet almost all the time leaving it very soft. I'm assuming I would have to remove all that soil and replace with clay in order to get it to hold? Would it help to dig out that low area next to the creek and would sediment fall into that as it is coming through the creek? The creek is curvy and bells out to this low spot right before it enters the pond. Hard to vision I know. The creek does have a direct line to the pond but this low area is just next to the creek and does hod some water most of the year. I added a drawing which might help. The black is the creek, the red is the low area and the blue is the pond
You may not have to build a dam because of your specific situation. If you did, remember it's not quite the same thing as for your pond. It just needs to hold up enough to stay put and slow down the water movement. Notice even in catmandoos pics, how it can be sticks, stones ,etc. It does not have to be impermeable like your pond's dam. It can seep water thru.
From your drawing, it looks like you have a perfect spot for one. Right where the red lines come to a point. The water flow that is coming down to your pond wants to go straight, and that brings it into the red area. That current will bring the sediment in there to. Once in there, the water will escape back out and to your pond. I bet you could trap a lot of sediment in that spot.
Great, thanks. How deep would you make the area for sediment? I have several very large rocks and about a half load of rip rap leftover I could use to slow the flow. It does roar on a good rainfall but I built a bridge over this Creek that goes under and has held up through those rains. Thanks again.
I think there are a number of things you can do to slow sediment from getting into the pond. For one you could excavate the creek deep and wide apart from the tail end where it enters the pond (a long, slow creek) and place rip-rap "dams" to slow the water further every so often. Or a series of these long, slow creeks depending on elevation drop. It would then be simpler to observe when each segment gets full and when it is time to clean it out.
Toss some FHM in the top one, and when you flood, the fish get snacks.
How deep and big of an area would all depend on how much sediment you get and how often you want to clean it out. Sediment will find and stay in the deepest areas, so let that be a gauge. Once that fills up to the overall area, they move on to the next deepest spot. Gauge how much volume of sediments have come in your pond over how many years. Divide that up, and you will have a pretty good idea of how much to expect to clean out of the sediment basin. If you get a lot and your spot is small, you might have to clean it out several times a year. Or you might only need to do it every few years. Keep an eye on it, and when it's full get it cleaned out.
Doing the things LS has said will help you out too.
Thanks for the input. I can't really measure the amount of sediment entering the pond. I have not owned it long enough and don't have any basis other than it has, since built, been cleaned once and partially once. It is too shallow now for for safe fish life from what I understand so I need to do something as I did partially stock it. I did put up some fencing between trees and pinched it with rip rap at the mouth of the creek. Then I built a bridge with a 24" pipe covered in 2's with each side rip rap'd. Those should both help. Now for the low area I was going to fill with dirt. I may dig that down about 8-10 feet and make it about 25' around. That will make the creek dead end into it before making its way to the pond. I may also put another rip rap dam in right after it leaves the new sediment pond. And as LS said, that would be a great place to raise FHM for the other fish. I could manually move them or see them pushed in when we have the big rains. Always something to work on. I hope by adding this new area and deepening another portion of the pond it might help me with the algae growth as well. Thanks
Ive not really built any dams to control erosion, unless you define rock piles and strawbales as dams.
Instead, I've dug a number of small holes (5x5 to about 10x30 ft) to hold and clear the water entering my ponds. I also created my own wetlands a number of years ago by filling high run-off areas with oat and barley straw bales. The bales filled in with silt and vegetation. Now the water coming out of this area into the ponds is drinking water clear. I now raise horse radish, celery, WV "ramps" and strawberries in these areas, based on how much sunlight they receive each day.