I need your opinions. I attached 2 pictures of my new pond that was built in January. We have had some real good rains near St Louis MO and the pond level raised and lowered several times. The pictures attached are showing where it sat for a long period and where it got to after we got some flooding rains. However 4 days later it was back down to the lower level. Should I assume its leaking or the ground is saturating? Only reason I am saying saturating is because I was told that by a few pond builders in the area. I am planning on driving 5 hours this weekend to pick up 3-3000lb bags of bentonite because the price is really good on it.
Welcome from another Missourian, Best I can tell form your photos...you lost about a foot of water to "saturation"? That sure seems like a lot to me. My small quarter acre pond took months to fill and never dropped more than a few inches between rains. I would not expect saturation to take the water level back down to a previous level either...if that is your case.
I've helped hundreds of guys on the forum with leaking ponds, and have sealed 7 of own, happy to help if possible.
Some wicking is natural for a new pond, but that would likely not be responsible for 12" loss. Measure your vertical water loss daily with a stake - this is critical data to establish.
Bentonite, in my experience and the pond builders I know, will not seal a hydrated pond. They use bentonite during the construction of liner phase. Sealing hydrated ponds can be achieved in other ways, however.
If you would like to chat I'm happy to spend some time learning about your pond and possible leak issue. My time is free to my Pond Boss family. Feel free to reach out anytime:
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Im a long ways from being a professional but have sealed a few lagoons and ponds up with bentonite and have had way better luck with incorporating it into the soil at least a ft or more deep into the clay, I actually sealed off almost clean sand up that way by mixing a generous amount of it with the sand for about 18" deep, but then that was in a sewage lagoon which only had about a 3 1/2' working depth, not near as much pressure.
All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
Question, ""Do you think a heavy tire bobcat will compact enough?"" Probably not. It all depends on clay quality and weight of the bobcat. I assume that the clay quality is not all that good which is why you are using bentonite. It would be better to have very narrow tires than wide tires on a bobcat. A bicycle driven on 4" of soil over an egg will bust the egg whereas a bulldoser on that 4" of soil will not break the egg. Narrow compacts much better than wide tires that spread out the weight for compaction over a wide surface and that is not what you want. Your money is best spent on renting a sheepsfoot roller that is especially designed, built and used to compact soil. Don't go through all this effort and expense to not have the soil compacted as best as possible. The sheepsfoot roller will be a small amount of money as a form of insurance. then if that does not work then you know you did the very best for that attempt. Shop around you might be able to rent a idle sheepsfoot for very reasonable cost. It could 'probably' be pulled with a good quality bobcat.
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Now that the pond is empty do you see any holes or other signs of where the water has been going?
I'm no pro but the way I understand it you need some dampness to get compaction but to wet and you can't compact it. I would think if the Bentonite gets to wet it will swell before you get it compacted. I would think that you want to get it compacted before it swells to much so it will seal better.
The operator who built the pond is going to come back out and dig out the black dirt until he gets to clay or rock and start packing in clay. Question is it safe to leave a hill side that the water will be up against untouched or should it be skimmed and packed with clay