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New pond questions....need opinions
#528338 12/01/20 05:55 PM
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Hello all! Ive really enjoyed reading all the various posts on here....great stuff!

I just completed building a pond with a friend of mine. Its about .6 of an acre and about 10-12' deep at the deepest trench down the center.
The pond was dug with a pan drag behind a tractor and we cut in a 3' shelf around half of it and put rip rap on the shelf.
Mostly reddish brown clay, actually so thick we had to take the cutting blade off the pan and switch to teeth because it was packed in so tight it stopped our massive john deere in its tracks. We dug a deeper cut trench at the bottom with an excavator and got into a little of the more gold/yellow clay with some boulders mixed in.

We havent had any decent rain since we have dug the pond and my question mainly is around knowing what our next steps should be?
We are going to fill it with a well and have a fountain in it (residential pond), we dug a 12' deep trench off the side and put in a 22" well casing and backfilled with gravel....we plan to irrigate off the well casing that filters through the 15 foot of gravel trench and reaches pumps that are easy to access via a lid on the casing behind the dam (dam was made of pond clay we took up during the excavation with the pan).

What would the experts on here do at this point? Start filling and see if it holds? Wait for some big rains? Put down bentonite or some other "sealer" as a base while its dry? Just curious what the next ideal steps would be. Budget it a factor, dont have a ton of money to throw at it.

Thanks in advance! Sorry if some of these questions are redundant.

Jake

Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528351 12/02/20 06:16 AM
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Mike Otto has a book that can be purchased here on Pond Boss. That would be my advice. I understand it may be necessary to remove the bolders and pack clay around where they were. But I am no expert when it comes to pond building. Better to do all the work now before it has water and before you discover it won't hold water. Work would be much harder to do if you are working in the mud.


Do not judge me by the politicians in my City, State or Federal Government.


Tracy
Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528363 12/02/20 10:04 AM
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Jake, welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new pond!

Did your operator use compaction equipment on the clay sides and on the bottom after you removed the boulders? Or did he just run over it with the dozer?

If you believe that you have a good seal on your pond, then my recommendation is to start filling with water. High clay-content soil will actually start cracking as it continues to dry out. You need to keep water on it as much as possible.

Further, it will take some time after the water level reaches full pool just to determine if your pond has a leak.

If you discover later that your pond DOES have a leak that requires remediation, you can drain the pond and perform your work. Unfortunately, you will have a long wait period for the pond to dry out enough to work on it. (If you think it is likely that the pond will leak, then now is the best time IMHO to work in bentonite or other sealing measures if you are still within your budget.)

Do you have a bottom drain, or enough low ground beyond the pond to run a siphon? If so, always use that option to drain your pond. DO NOT drain your pond through your irrigation well casing (unless there is an emergency). When the pond is full of clean water, the gravel pack between the pond and casing should be pretty effective at keeping particles from going through your irrigation pump. However, if you drain the pond and run the last bit of mucky water through the well casing, then you will start to get an infiltration of "fines" that will slowly decrease the permeability (water flow capability) of your gravel pack.

Good luck on your project, and please post pictures! This crowd loves pictures.

Rod

Re: New pond questions....need opinions
FishinRod #528368 12/02/20 11:16 AM
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Rod-

Thanks for the reply. My operator just ran over it with various machinery during the excavation, its pretty packed in.
The small rock we got into was only during digging the final trough and pretty minimal. We pulled them out and packed the dirt back in around them.

Im on the fence about how to proceed just because I don't have the experience to assess if the pond will likely leak or not.
Based on how gummy and packed in the clay was just to get out we feel pretty good about it, but again....no real experience here.

I should probably just take your advice and start filling and see how it shakes out. Good point on the drying out of the clay.

I will get some photos posted up soon!

best-
Jake

Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528374 12/02/20 01:14 PM
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I am definitely NOT a pond expert! However, I am a geologist and a pond rookie.

Please wait and see if some of the actual experts on the site will chime in before you make a final decision.

Of course, "it depends" will probably be the answer from any expert that was not actually on site during construction of the pond.

I think you may have a chance for snow tonight to start filling your pond. You don't usually hear about that scenario on Pond Boss! smile

Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528376 12/02/20 01:34 PM
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I'm no expert but considering how my pond has done without good compaction in the bowl. I would consider maybe running a sheeps foot around the bowl and compacting it as good as you can.


Bob


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Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528377 12/02/20 01:39 PM
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A couple or several ways to proceed. If you are confident the current bottom compaction was adequate then fill and watch the water level. Well compacted clay basins hold water right away with very little water absorption upon filling. Loss of water in well sealed ponds will be minimal during fall winter when evaporation is minimal. If you question the compaction of the bottom trench where the rocks were then re-compact that area with a double barrel sheepsfoot roller or a vibratory sheepsfoot compactor. For reference a well sealed clay bottom pond will loose only around 1 ft of water during a 6 to 10 week drought; air temps 80's to 90F. During mid-summer in hot dry weather and no rain there can be 1/2" to 3/4" of evaporation per day depending on conditions. Loss of more water than that per day indicates the degree of leakage.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/02/20 01:42 PM.

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Re: New pond questions....need opinions
jdhart73 #528385 12/02/20 06:36 PM
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^^^ What Bill C. said. The thing about tracked equipment is that the tracks are on them to allow them to move over softer ground without sinking in. That is just the opposite of what you want to happen when you want to compact the pond basin to seal it.


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Re: New pond questions....need opinions
Bill Cody #528397 12/03/20 12:04 AM
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Thanks Bill! I looked into renting a ride on pad foot roller compactor and can get one for a day to just smash the bottom of the pond in before filling it. Its worth the small price of a day rental to give it a chance for success. Thanks for your recomendation!


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