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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529577 01/10/21 05:18 PM
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Snipe, thanks for the info. I figured you was talking about a new pond or at least one that had been drained.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529579 01/11/21 06:37 AM
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I can see where soda ash might seal the ponds bottom. If done correctly it could form a layer that would set up much like cement. I would have to give it a little more thought if I was going to attempt it. Looks like snipe has already figured out the formula. smile


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529583 01/11/21 08:52 AM
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Tracy, your earlier suggestion for the pond on sandy soil is a good one. Bentonite mud from a drilling company will no doubt decrease filtration on a sandy bottom and the solution may be an acceptable one that provides what is sufficient for the poster's needs. I need to add my thumbs up to it.

Soda ash has been used for a long time to seal pond bottoms but the soil must have clays to work. As Snipe mentioned, it depends on the soil. In soils (with clays) where the clays are bound in granules that don't stick together well, the soda ash disperses the clays making them behave more like bentonite does. They become mobile and plastic. In a soil with little clay, the soda ash would offer much less and perhaps no benefit. An example of such soil is my father in law's soil which in every practical sense is almost nothing but sand and organics .

Where clays that are already dispersive are available for lining the pond, there is no need for any sealing additives at all. In these cases one might need to offset the clay's dispersive properties in order to lower turbidity.

Last edited by jpsdad; 01/11/21 09:05 AM.
Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Bobbss #529589 01/11/21 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Bobbss
Jpsdad, thanks for the info. You're one of the few people I've heard say you can use bentonite to seal a pond that has water in it. I've had a few people tell me that it worked for them, but most on here say you have to till it in and compact it.

I've worked on hundreds of leaking pond projects over the past 6 years and there's a dozen or so cases where bentonite was applied to a hydrated/full pond in hopes to seal slow the leak - some of these projects cost into the five figures and unfortunately, for these guys, bentonite didn't improve the leak issue. This doesn't mean it won't work, just means it didn't work for them. I think half the project cost was due to freight costs per Snipe. Closest source for us in NE is WY or TX - we've bid a few jobs and freight was cost prohibitive and blew out the budget. If I lived closer to a source and it was cost effective heck I'd try anything to get a seal.

I am typically the last gasp call made before folks are about to abandon their sealing efforts altogether. I try to talk them off the ledge and in some cases we try a polymer, in some cases I try to convince them to live with the seepage, or [last resort] fill in the pond. Whatever lines up with the person's goals and budget is the solution I recommend - I'm just here as a volunteer to try and help whomever I possibly can with pond related issues.

Regarding Bentonite application - I have always deferred to Mike Otto/Michael Gray direction which states it must be tilled into the dry basin and compacted with 4-6" lift of high plasticity clay. I've worked with polymers to seal dry basins with great success in a similar manner, but have no personal experience using Bentonite as, again, it's not cost effective for us in the Midwest and the polymer is far more efficient and friendly on the budget. There may be other ways to apply bentonite, but I'm not familiar with either of these pond builders ever discussing it.

To make matters a bit more confusing, Kenny comes along in the last few years and relates his success using soda ash [sodium carbonate] as a sealant. I'd never heard about this process before - and he's definitely the resident expert on the subject. I have no ideas on application process, application amount, or cost - but I always defer to guys who have directly worked with said materials on site and have practical, personal experience with the results. I would like to learn more so I can start providing it as a possible solution for leak issues, but I'll need to lean on Kenny until I understand it better.

These discussions are valuable as there may exist multiple strategies to help slow or seal leaks - and identifying the most cost effective method is everyone's goal. Good stuff.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529594 01/11/21 05:40 PM
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It would be great if we had a section just for threads about sealing ponds and such.

From what I know right now, Soilfloc is in first place for my personal case and as I said before I will probably try it when the stars all align if not holding well enough at that time. But I'm always open to learning other ways.

TJ can you tell me what is the minimum water temperature and what is the best water temperature for Soilfloc to work?


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529603 01/12/21 06:34 AM
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I agree with Tj on using polymers for some leaks. I have purchased soil floc from Tj for sealing off leaks in my sediment pond and it was easy to apply and I saw some bennifit from the product. And he is a good guy and will help you out if he can. I also agree that shipping cost ( if you have to ship it) would be way cheaper for the polymer because it takes alot less of the product. As for using bentonite, it is a clay and can be used to help reduce fluid loss. You just have to remember it is not a plastic liner nor is it a conctrete pool. In my opinion, after using bentonite most everyday for 40 yrs, it will reduce the fluid loss if applied prior to filling the pond with water. It is not so easy to get enough of it in place to seal a leak after there is water in the pond. Can it be done i think it can. But it would require a premix but again it will reduce the fluid loss and may not completely seal off 100% of the seepage. Another thing is you can use most of those types of polymer products mixed together with bentonite in a premix.

Last edited by TGW1; 01/12/21 06:45 AM.

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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529606 01/12/21 07:38 AM
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I think Snipe nailed it when he said soil issues and adapting to their peculiarities should be addressed in the construction. Nothing beats a liner constructed from clay with good plastic properties. He is able to transform his troublesome loams with soda ash into an acceptable clayish liner with acceptable plastic properties. The filtrations results of his cores do tell us that it doesn't take 100% clay to have a good pond bottom.

I don't know what Soil Floc is made from but I think it likely that its polymer is polyacrylamide or what is widely called PAM. I have no doubt it will work and I think it works for similar reasons that bentonite works. It forms an layer of low permeability at the interface of permeable soil/strata. I see a much greater benefit with a polymer when there is things like rock seams taking water. Bentonite is very dispersive and it will tend to stay dispersed in pond water, which is why I suggested it may work better if precipitated with a flocculant. In the end, if there is filtration, the bentonite or the polymer will be drawn to it and they will bridge the interstitial spaces near the boundary. I think a polymer works better when these spaces are large (eg rock seams, vugs, and fractures). A blowout? Its probably better to reconstruct IMHO.

I think Bentonite should only be used when the soil is primarily chemically inert components (e.g. primarily sand). It should not be used where the soil chemistry is coagulating clays already in the soil. The tendency will be to do the same thing to the bentonite reducing its performance. Snipe's method of constructing a liner treated with dispersant is appropriate for these soils.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529616 01/12/21 01:26 PM
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I have a unit of Soil Floc here that I will be using as a test in VERY sandy soils and incorporating it into the soil before the pond is filled. I had hoped to do the test this Fall, but the weather turned too cold too fast to get the test done. I think I have figured out how to get water into the pond without causing erosion which would disrupt the Soil Floc compacted area.

Going to dig a few small ponds here and need to find the most cost effective way to seal them. No clay in the area unless I dig down 21 feet.......

Here locally, the water table is high enough and the soil porous enough that digging any pond deeper than 8-10 feet result in water upwelling into the pond during construction. That precludes easily incorporating any "sealer" into areas of the pond that are deeper than that, but maybe if a deep sump is dug to let the seepage accumulate, and the material incorporated as best as possible into the surrounding soil. then Soil Floc applied to that sump area after the pond is full, may be a way to seal new ponds locally.

The biggest unknown is the groundwater table. I believe that if the water level in the pond is high enough (i.e. higher than the water table level outside the pond) then the water pressure inside the pond will prevent the water outside the pond from seeping into the pond, and pushing the sealing material out of the soil and into the water in the pond. I think that will be a problem that needs to be considered in locations where a well cannot be used to initially fill a pond.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529632 01/13/21 06:38 AM
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I will follow this with interest, esshup. You are correct that if the water level of the pond is higher than the table the pressure in the pond will prevent inflow into the pond from ground water.

How big a pond in surface area are you going to be testing this on? What is a unit of soil floc? I mean in terms of weight and volume? How much does this unit of soil floc cost?

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529634 01/13/21 07:37 AM
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I have used at least 10 different polymers to control fluid loss. I would suggest a pilot test to determine how to apply the polymer to the soil to seal a pond. My first thoughts are to just add it on top of the soil and not blend in with the sand. If you look at some of soil floc earlier reccomendations were to dust in on top of the water and let it sink to bottom. That would put the product on top of the soil on the bottom of the pond. And from my experience i think that would be better than blending it with sand. When people have used the polymer they talk about how it is gooey and slick and how it sticks to the side of their boat when they add it to the water. And that is exactly how it acts, Keeping this in mind, when it is added to a soil it forms a slick, gooey film that water will not pass through if the goo is thick enough. To pilot test it use a bucket, drill holes in the bottom of the bucket and blend it with soil add water and see how long it takes before the bucket leaks. Then do another test with adding it to the top of the sand/soil covering the sand and then add water. See how long it takes for the bucket to leak.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529641 01/13/21 08:41 AM
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+1 to Tracy's suggestion to perform experiments to estimate effectiveness. I was going to suggest the same but wanted to understand the amount to be used and how much surface area of the pond bottom so that the density of polymer could be estimated in preparing the experiment. My impression from your thoughts, esshup, is that you are contemplating use of the polymer in lieu of bentonite in sandy soil where construction techniques are similar to that of using bentonite to construct a liner.

Tracy makes a good argument that a film on the surface might be more effective than trying to integrate the polymer through a volume of sand. With experiments, one could determine the costs of different approaches and which are most effective. The long term benefits in the unique challenges you face in those sandy soils could not be determined from such short term experiments however. This something to consider as well. I think in much the same way that Snipe protects the liners he constructs with an overlay of soil ... you might also want to do the same so as to protect the liner from crayfish and such. Another thing to consider is whether you can obtain soils a reasonable distance away with sufficient clay so as to improve it for liner use with a clay dispersant (eg soda ash). Such could be mixed with sand to increase its thickness. In a case with ground water flows under a clay liner, some gradual erosion of the clay liner must also be expected.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
esshup #529657 01/13/21 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by esshup
I have a unit of Soil Floc here that I will be using as a test in VERY sandy soils and incorporating it into the soil before the pond is filled. I had hoped to do the test this Fall, but the weather turned too cold too fast to get the test done. I think I have figured out how to get water into the pond without causing erosion which would disrupt the Soil Floc compacted area.

Going to dig a few small ponds here and need to find the most cost effective way to seal them. No clay in the area unless I dig down 21 feet.......

Here locally, the water table is high enough and the soil porous enough that digging any pond deeper than 8-10 feet result in water upwelling into the pond during construction. That precludes easily incorporating any "sealer" into areas of the pond that are deeper than that, but maybe if a deep sump is dug to let the seepage accumulate, and the material incorporated as best as possible into the surrounding soil. then Soil Floc applied to that sump area after the pond is full, may be a way to seal new ponds locally.

The biggest unknown is the groundwater table. I believe that if the water level in the pond is high enough (i.e. higher than the water table level outside the pond) then the water pressure inside the pond will prevent the water outside the pond from seeping into the pond, and pushing the sealing material out of the soil and into the water in the pond. I think that will be a problem that needs to be considered in locations where a well cannot be used to initially fill a pond.

While I've sealed sand/gravel veins and glacial till on my ponds using polymer, I have no experience trying to tackle a proper sandpit. Scott and I have discussed this project for years - I related I don't have much confidence anything can seal a sandpit but a compacted, high plasticity clay liner, but Scott elected to give it a shot using a single unit. I am also concerned with the rising water table pressure potentially working against the hydrostatic pressure of the pond volume potentially affecting a seal down the road, if indeed one is even achieved. This should be educational at the very least. Wish you lived closer - I'd love to treat some test sand holes and see how things go.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
TGW1 #529658 01/13/21 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TGW1
I have used at least 10 different polymers to control fluid loss. I would suggest a pilot test to determine how to apply the polymer to the soil to seal a pond. My first thoughts are to just add it on top of the soil and not blend in with the sand. If you look at some of soil floc earlier reccomendations were to dust in on top of the water and let it sink to bottom. That would put the product on top of the soil on the bottom of the pond. And from my experience i think that would be better than blending it with sand. When people have used the polymer they talk about how it is gooey and slick and how it sticks to the side of their boat when they add it to the water. And that is exactly how it acts, Keeping this in mind, when it is added to a soil it forms a slick, gooey film that water will not pass through if the goo is thick enough. To pilot test it use a bucket, drill holes in the bottom of the bucket and blend it with soil add water and see how long it takes before the bucket leaks. Then do another test with adding it to the top of the sand/soil covering the sand and then add water. See how long it takes for the bucket to leak.

Agree Tracy - good observations.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529665 01/13/21 09:39 PM
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In case anyone is interested, I did discover a few things about soilfloc. Its polymer is anionic polyacrylamide (PAM) and a unit is 1 55 lb bag of part A and 1 55 lb bag of part B. Don't know if both bags are polymer or if 1 bag is polymer and the other inert (in terms of being a polymer). So assuming 110 pounds of polymer per unit and a recommended rate of 1 unit per 3000 sq ft the application rate is ~.59 oz. of polymer per square foot. So roughly 1.2 % the weight recommended of bentonite when constructing a liner using bentonite (3 lbs/ft^2). The cost to treat with soil-floc excluding shipping and application is ~ $8000 per acre which is a fraction of the FOB source cost of Bentonite > $26000 but just not sure about the cost of bagged mud nowadays. There is a big difference in the weight. 130,680 lbs dry bentonite per acre compared with to 1597 lbs of soilfloc. If only half the soil floc is polymer, then 799 lbs of soilfloc polymer. So either 81 or 162 times the sealant by weight is recommended for bentonite.

I would personally love to do some testing with soil floc and report the findings. If any one has a small batch of part A and part B leftover from a treatment, and can spare it, I'd be happy to pay shipping for a small sample to work with. Same goes for bentonite but I don't care to do any testing with granular bentonite.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529666 01/13/21 10:08 PM
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TJ is a dealer.. He works with the parent company and has done hundreds of jobs using the product. If you have questions or want to obtain product I would ping him on soilfloc.

Last edited by Snipe; 01/13/21 10:27 PM.
Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529667 01/13/21 10:31 PM
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I have a hell of an Idea.. I have 3 cells to build in the next couple of months.. How about we do one with soilfloc, one with soda ash and the 3rd with bentonite??

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529668 01/13/21 10:33 PM
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Jpsdad, I've seen enough Soilfloc to treat a 1 acre pond (1,320 pounds) for $5,700.00 delivered.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Snipe #529670 01/13/21 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Snipe
I have a hell of an Idea.. I have 3 cells to build in the next couple of months.. How about we do one with soilfloc, one with soda ash and the 3rd with bentonite??

Are you convinced they will all leak? Considering cost, availability and your professional experience I’d recommend your soda ash application. I will help you all I can - I’m down for the road trip.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529671 01/13/21 11:19 PM
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Ken,

I think we already know your soils work best with soda ash. My thoughts are to measure filtration under different treatments. In particular, I would like to test cost equivalent application of soilfloc and bentonite to see how their filtration compares with sand as the filtration medium. Neither could perform better under field conditions and we could at least learn the best possible performance in sand one might expect from each. I also want to test the soda ash with our caliche underlain clay soils. I think they may respond well with this treatment where bentonite would not. I notice many of the ponds constructed near me noticeably filter water and are maintained by pumped water. So I think I will learn something that I can apply later when constructing a pond.

Another thing that interests me is how each might perform if the interface is punctured equivalently. Would they both filter away or would one or the other be less prone or perhaps have self healing properties?

Bob,

To be sure there will be different prices depending on vendor. I just did a google search and that is the only site I visited. They recommended one unit per 3000 ft^2 and their cost was 557 (I think) when buying 15 units. Anyways, I will defer to 1320 lbs/acre at a cost of $5700/acre. Thank you for sharing this.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
teehjaeh57 #529694 01/14/21 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by teehjaeh57
Originally Posted by Snipe
I have a hell of an Idea.. I have 3 cells to build in the next couple of months.. How about we do one with soilfloc, one with soda ash and the 3rd with bentonite??

Are you convinced they will all leak? Considering cost, availability and your professional experience I’d recommend your soda ash application. I will help you all I can - I’m down for the road trip.

My thought was although I already know soda ash will work in my soil (less than 3% clay particulates of any sort), I have the complete soil logs of the last 3 jobs I've done, 1 is lean to fat sandy clay, 1 is heavy Loess content and 1 is very much the same as my own at primarily Fine sandy loam.
All 3 have what I consider acceptable loss at less than .100/day. 1 is .033/day, .057/day and the hardest to seal was the heavy Loess and came out at .097/day which just barely exceeds guidelines set in Doc 509. But I also shorted the second layer by 3lbs per 100 sq ft. Had I done the second layer slightly heavier, the seal may have well fell into 509's acceptable limits.

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