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5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
#522722 06/19/20 08:56 AM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 13
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Posts: 13
I started posting here a while back about our small pond and started getting some good information but work and other things got in the way and I had to put it all aside. My attention has turned to the pond once again and I've come to the conclusion that job one has to be removing as much muck and silt as possible. Since there is no life beyond frogs and turtles in the pond currently I have no worries about releasing toxic gases into the water. My goal is to accomplish the following:

  • Thoroughly clean the bottom and sides down to a plain soil/rock bottom.
  • Line tributary/runoff channels with geotextile fabric overlaid by 3-5" rock.
  • Line "soft" shore areas with geotextile fabric overlaid by 3-5" rock.
  • Run PEX air line into pond and begin aeration.


Here is a diagram of the as-built conditions of my pond. Essentially it was simply dug out of the edge of a swamp with the spoils piled around the south and east sides to form a dam. As far as I can tell it is mostly filled with groundwater as it was basically just dug below the water table. In three years I've never seen the water level drop more than 3" from the top of the standpipe even in the driest spells. There are two runoff channels/tributaries that run into it that probably contribute most of the silt, so I want to try to trap that further upstream and line the channels with rock so that as the water flows down the silt gets scoured out of it. We have an old farm property so there are old stonerows everywhere from which we can "mine" all the rock we need from. In any event, I know that oftentimes a concern of removing muck is getting water back into the pond, but I don't think that will be a concern for me. Rather, I think it would be a challenge to fully drain it:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

My dredging plan involves building a modified "gold dredge" in that instead of my discharge going into a sluice and back into the waterbody I'll simply discharge it to the swamp that sits below the berm:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Based on my reading I think that this Harbor Freight 2" semi-trash pump should do fine for my purposes since I really don't have much head:

https://www.harborfreight.com/2-in-212cc-Gasoline-Engine-Semi-Trash-Water-Pump-158-GPM-63405.html

I sourced four free 55 gallon poly drums from a local carwash and will be building a platform on top of them so that I can float the pump out into the pond, keeping my lines shorter and thus cheaper. I'd be grateful to hear from anyone else who has undertaken such a project about tips, pitfalls, etc... Based on measuring that I've done from my canoe I have about 6-7' from the surface to the beginning of the muck layer. From there its not clear how thick it is and what underlays it. I would love to be able to increase the depth to 8-10' feet in the middle but I'm not sure if that's realistic given what I have to work with. I'd love to just rent a trackhoe and begin scooping out a yard or more at a time, but the pond is way back in the woods and just getting the machine back there would be a challenge. Also, I will probably spend far less on my dredge rig that I can use indefinitely than I would renting a good sized machine for few days with delivery, etc...

Re: 5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
Swamp_Yankee #522725 06/19/20 11:21 AM
Joined: Aug 2017
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Your plan seems a bit aggressive and borderline crazy to me. I like it!
Interested in the feedback here.

But, there may be better options.
First off, if the muck you speak of is organic, mother nature can take care of it for you.
She just needs some time, and a little help from you. Aeration is the key here.
Is there a shortage of time for a result?

Re: 5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
Swamp_Yankee #522726 06/19/20 11:47 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 387
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I can't speak to the muck removal with a trash pump part of your query, but I can speak to the quality of the pumps sold by Harbor Freight.

Don't waste your money.

I burned up three of them while I was renovating my pond.

Buy a good one and you'll only have to buy one.

Re: 5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
Swamp_Yankee #522748 06/20/20 05:42 AM
Joined: Jul 2018
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Originally Posted by Journeyman
Your plan seems a bit aggressive and borderline crazy to me. I like it! Interested in the feedback here. But, there may be better options. First off, if the muck you speak of is organic, mother nature can take care of it for you. She just needs some time, and a little help from you. Aeration is the key here. Is there a shortage of time for a result?

Some of the muck is definitely organic-there are a lot of trees around dropping leaves, sticks, etc...in, but the pond was put in about 40 years ago and there is a fair amount of silt as well so I'm not sure how much aeration and a muck dissolving product would help. Besides, I know that a lot of times a slow approach is favored because fish kills from release of toxic gases is a concern, which i don't need to worry about since I have no fish.

Originally Posted by Augie
I can't speak to the muck removal with a trash pump part of your query, but I can speak to the quality of the pumps sold by Harbor Freight.
Don't waste your money. I burned up three of them while I was renovating my pond. Buy a good one and you'll only have to buy one.

What went bad? The engine or the pump?

Re: 5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
Swamp_Yankee #522755 06/20/20 11:15 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
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Posts: 387
Likes: 9
The motors burned up.

I bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/WACKER-NEUSON-PST2-400-Elect/dp/B008EKMIHQ/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=2%22+trash+pump+electric&qid=1592669642&sr=8-9

It is a good pump.

Re: 5000 SF Pond Renovation (Muck Removal)
Swamp_Yankee #522793 06/22/20 05:43 AM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 13
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I pulled the Fathers' Day card and got a bunch of time back at the pond yesterday and I ended up learning a lot. I don't think my muck/silt problem is as bad as I had originally thought. Last year I had gone around in my canoe to try to get a sense of the depth and used a tape measure which wasn't all that effective. This time I used a 1" x 8' steel pipe which penetrated the muck layer and allowed me to find the true bottom. I'm still not sure how much muck and loose silt is there, but the pipe did allow me to determine that the pond has a very hard and rocky bottom. Utilizing a combination of the pipe and a tape measure I was able to measure depths of about 4' which are about 6-8' out from the banks and as much as 5'-6" to 6' in the middle. Using my old Sears fiberglass canoe as a work boat, I pulled a bunch of brush from the pond that seemed like it had started on land, drooped into the water and sprouted roots everywhere:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

This photo is looking toward the more silted in end of the pond where runoff from the neighboring fields tends to sheet flow and/or follow a channel into the pond. I removed a bunch of the stuff that was growing IN the water but as you can see on the right and left sides there is still drooping vegetation. I plan on really aggressively working both sides with a chainsaw to get rid of a bunch of that stuff and clean up the banks.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The far side I'm going to leave alone for now because it is basically a wetland that probably serves to trap silt at that end rather than allowing it to flow into the rest of the pond. I figure one day when I have the $$$ I could rent a machine and scoop it out in a couple of buckets full and enlarge the pond another 10-20'. I just ordered these and a thermometer which will be here this week:

https://shop.naturalwaterscapes.com/muck-remover-pellets-10-lbs/

I plan on using the 1/4 acre dose which is double what I need at about an 1/8 of an acre, but the directions recommend that for older ponds. I'll try to distribute them as evenly as possible which shouldn't be too hard given the size of the pond. I'm also looking at aeration options, but the pond is about 225-250' from the nearest outlet. I figure the best option is a septic aerator pump and a long airline. Hopefully I can make a lot of progress this summer and into the fall. Of course if we have another winter like the last one I'll pretty much be able to work down there year round.


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