This might get a little longwinded and I hope I have this in the correct category. Here goes... Well, it has been a long while in the back of my mind. I've always wanted a pond to be able to play with and stock fish. Lifelong goal actually. About 5 years ago I purchased 27 acres that shares a large pond (14.1 acre feet) with the neighbour. We split it east to west. Originally the plan was to put fish in that as it has natural runoff in the spring which fills it to capacity and then some as well as a couple natural springs to top it up during the summer months. Has a tremendous amount of natural forage and has been around for alot longer than I. The trouble with it is it is shallow. To shallow. In the summer months it darn near gets choked out with weed growth. A few years ago I cut the dam and drained the pond as in a joint effort to repair a leaky spot in the dam and had the material dug out from the south end creating a deeper horseshoe type area. Still not enough though as our government would only allow so many cubic meters of volume increase. I've often thought about adding a few fish to see how they would do however I feel it would not go well.
Fast forward to this past week. The house has been built now and we have discovered where the septic field is has a bit of a spring time drainage issue. As the snow melts there is a low spot which at the time of installation we knew was there however did not realize since the land was new to us that it held as much water as it does. In a very wet winter we found out the melting snow water gets deep enough in this area to cover one and sometime two of the South ends of the laterals. I have been meaning to build up the ground cover over the septic field to deal with this as it could use more ground cover as it is. I also need more fill to finish grading and levelling some areas around the house. I have a need and a use for plenty of fill. That and the fact that I need a water source on the West side of the property for livestock watering gave me a opportunity to have a need for a pond/dugout area over there. I'll refer to the waterbody as my pondout from here!!
Living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is awesome, it also means there is not a flat area to be found on my property. There is a great spot between some hills that attracts water during the melt and is a quite wet spot until it dries up in later June. I had originally planned on this as the pondout spot as it will naturally fill every spring and it is full of hummocks from the livestock. Grows grass but is really rough to get through and do much with. Sadly when looking at our regulations for a permit exempt dugout this became a "questionable" area according to the government as I am not able to put a dugout in a "watercourse" or "wetland". I question the wetland part however a stretch it may be I could see where they feel it may possibly be a watercourse in the springtime. After deliberations with the permit fellow he basically said I can dig anywhere I want except that one spot in order to avoid any possible issues with being exempt. So the spot has been moved a few hundred feet South up an a little bench which sits maybe 4-5' higher than this wet area. The other caveat is I can only fill it with rain water or snowmelt. It may take a while to fill!!
The end goal is to have a spot for the kids to swim and fish as well as water horses and goats when they are on the west side. I can only have a maximum of 2500 cubic meters of capacity to stay exempt. This past week a good friend of mine which owes me a couple favours and time as I work on some of his equipment showed up out of the blue to give me a hand. I had originally planned to wait till spring to do anything as Covid has not been friendly to business for me this year however since I had been helping him out this summer a fair bit and he knew I wanted to at least deal with the septic issue he showed up unannounced and would not take no for an answer. So let the digging begin!
After unloading his excavator and using my skid steer and his tandem we marked out the area to be dug and started to dig. We first started on the septic issue by trenching weeping tile from the low area around the hill and daylighted the exit to direct any of this water to run downhill directly to the pond. The pond itself is in a lower spot however not the lowest area. I'm hoping that by installing snow fence to the West of the pond and up the hill to the South will help aid in the filling of the pond/dugout. The structure once completed will be approx. 90' x 50' and hopefully the deepest end on the West being about 20' deep for about 2/3 the length on the pond then coming up to about 12' with the far East end tapering out to surface final slope TBD. Gotta be able to walk the excavator out. I want this East end to taper into the water as once the pondout is constructed it will be fenced off so the critters do not have full access to it. I'll be making an alley way with fence so they can water but not roam. This was suggested to me from the friendly helpful folks at the government. So I want a decent taper on this end so the critters will be able to water without worry of falling in and not being able to get out again. They feel this is the most effective way to deal with excess nutrients getting into the water. With the ground on a slope with the East end being higher we will need to strip the side and West end to clay and basically "berm up" the sides and one end with the culverts for the overflow on the West.
We started by stripping the topsoil off and found about 2' to 4' of very very nice top soil hidden under about 8" - 12" of thick field grass sod. Under this top soil is the most wonderful clay a person can ask for. Tremendous clay. We now have the roughish outline of the pondout done within about 10ish' in each direction and most of the topsoil removed. On the West end we dug a exploratory hole to make sure we were not going to hit any rock or shale in that area. We went about 15' feet and just kept getting marvelous clay. Things were going great till the weekend. Then the snow came. Lots and lots of snow. By the time it finished we ended up with a solid 14" on the level of heavy wet high density snow. To bad the hole wasn't finished. So now we wait. It is back in the mid to high forties maybe a day of low fifties so its melting. Just need need it to dry out enough to keep digging and moving dirt without making a huge mess as it is plenty sloppy out. Hoping for next Monday or Tuesday to be able to resume.
The goal after talking to the fish permit folks is to get the structure completed, fish barriers in place and send in pictures. With luck they will approve it and then the permit process begins. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to fill. I'm hoping to get approved for Rainbow, Brown and Tiger trout. If they approve it I'll need to get on the stick and build a solar aerator and feeder. The bummer in this whole process is they will not process the application until the pondout is complete with fish barriers in place even though it will run out into pasture when full. So kinda a gamble on the fish part. After sending the GPS coordinates to them and speaking on the phone they seemed quite positive and said as long as it is completed in accordance to their guidelines there was nothing they could see at this point which would inhibit getting approved. So here is for hoping. Once I start getting water in it I'll seed it with shrimp and leeches from the bigger pond to the East to get things going. How long to let it fallow will be the next step. It'll be interesting to see how the filling progresses. The kids really want a small dock and I'll probably build a small shack to store things in including the aeration pump and have a safe spot to mount the solar panels on the roof. My 12 year is totally stoked with the prospect of possibly getting fish.
My rambling has gone on long enough. I hope this jumble of words makes a little sense. I have pictures of the progress so far on my phone however I am not very computer literate and am not quite sure how to take them from phone to computer. Sorry. If I can figure out how to add them I will. I've been admiring alot of the projects on here for sometime and am happy to finally be able to contribute in some fashion. I'm well open to questions and or suggestions as well to make this project as seemless as possible. Thanks for reading, I'll keep posting progress as long as folks want to follow!
Alrighty, I think I have the picture thing figured out. Here are a few pictures from the start including the weeping tile install leading up to and including the recent snow. The snow has melted and it has dried out enough we were able to dig again yesterday afternoon and today. Tomorrow should be a good day digging as well.
Pictures of yesterday and today. Hauled a lot of fill to areas around the place that I need to finish grading and landscaping. Nice as I gotta do something with it! Kept working on shaping and digging. Started the berm on the three sides ad getting to depth on the West end. The last picture is looking up from the bottom. Measurements show a depth of around 22' right now. We will keep the excavator in the hole and dig a "U" shaped bottom around where the excavator sits then walk the excavator out and dig that pad out to about 14' leading the track out as the shallow end. We are finding some awesome clay down deep. We need to pull it up one a few spots however for the most part we are dealing with really decent fill. As you can see in the snow pictures with the melt it was pooling. That water was about 4' deep in that spot. It's coming along.
For your cattle water you can run a pipe threw the dam to a frost free hydrant, to get water out of your pond for a stock tank. Don't know how deep it would need to be where your at, but in Nebraska 4 feet works great. The pipe would need to be off the bottom of pond so you would get clean water. The hydrant would need to have gravel pack on the bottom so water can drain in winter. That way you do not need fence to pond or ground erosion from the animals.
Did some more digging yesterday. Was a good day. Got the hole pretty well shaped and to depth. Was hoping for more of a contoured shape to look more natural however the land and a few other factors made it a little tough to do much. Still not terrible. It's holding water which is great! Still need to do a bit more shaping on the top edge to make it a little more manageable. As you can see from the last picture at last light I shot the laser on it for elevations. It's getting pretty close. Need to build up the SW corner the most and a bit more on the South and NW corner and sides. I have learned the taking pictures of a hole in the ground is tougher than I though to get them to represent the size completely. I wanted to take some with my drone however it was way to windy. Day off today as I had to work. See what tomorrow brings. Weather is supposed to get snotty again this weekend. Hoping to get the dirt work done before the frost really sets in. I put in a panoramic picture I took, hopefully it shows up good on here... Apparently I still don't know how to make the pictures all orientate correctly...