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Joined: Jul 2024
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NEGirl Offline OP
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We have a pond on our family farm, it’s approximately 3 acres. The farm has been in our family for about 70 years and the pond has never went dry. It has survived several dry years. This year we have had plenty of rain here in Nebraska, but the pond is nearly empty. We think the neighbors knew well might be drilled into the underground stream that feeds it but we aren’t sure. Any other ideas? If it is the neighbors well is there anything we can do?
We are devastated at the loss of the pond and all the fish, especially the many large mouth bass! Thanks for your help!

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Welcome to the forum. How old is the pond? How deep is the pond? (Max depth)

If the pond is not sealed (typically a clay "liner" is used) and it is a ground water pond, meaning tied to the level of ground water, then there is not much that can be done.

Is the pond a dug out pond or a pond that has a dam? If it's a pond with a dam, go behind the dam and see if there are any wet areas.

Ponds can lose water by tree roots that died, decayed and left a void that water can follow to get out of the pond, muskrats or beavers digging through the clay liner and letting water out or by having the watershed that typically feeds the pond disrupted or diverted.

If it is a ground water pond, and the neighbors put in a new well that uses a lot of water, yes, then the well could possibly be the cause of the pond dropping. You might be able to go to your counties NRCS office (typically in the same office that the USDA office is) and see if they can come out and look at the pond. That shouldn't cost you anything.

Could you do anything about the pond going dry because of the neighbors well? It might vary from state to state, but here in Indiana, if it were my pond I couldn't do anything about it except to renovate the pond, make sure that it was a lined pond with a clay liner, and make sure that it was sealed so the neighbors well couldn't drain the pond again once it filled up from runoff or me filling it with a well.


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Agree with everything esshup said above.

If the neighbors drilled a "household" well, that should not be sufficient to drain a 3-acre pond. They could drain your pond if they drilled a high volume irrigation well.

Under Kansas regulations you need a water right for that level of well, and the water rights are very strictly regulated. I believe the regulations in Nebraska are similar (but not identical).

I think it is more like that you have a leak. Do you have an obvious dam? If so, then tree roots, muskrat/beavers, or an erosional slump may have created a dam leak.

If you don't have an obvious dam, then it is more likely that you have a groundwater pond.

Are you familiar with Lake McConaughy? It is a combination river/groundwater lake. However, during a previous drought the groundwater was so severely depleted that the lake level dropped by 55' from 2000 to 2008. Big rains over the next three years got it back to full, but the water level has been oscillating lately as the regional groundwater supplies in Nebraska are being gradually depleted. If you have a groundwater pond, then it is possible that regional changes have resulted in your decreased pond levels.

We have two groundwater ponds on our farm. The groundwater level fell below the bottom of our ponds and our creek went dry during our most recent 3-year drought. We have had a wet spring and the creek is running again. However, the groundwater level is barely inching up in our ponds. It can take a very long period of above average precipitation to fully recharge a depleted groundwater aquifer.

Do you dam checks as esshup suggested. Hopefully, you will find a problem that is fixable!

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Thank you! We will reach out to that office!

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I’m grateful for both of you responding! The pond is at least 70 years old, it was there when my grandparents bought the farm in the 50’s. It does have a dam. I know my grandpa had it dug out about 30 years ago I believe it was 12 feet deep in the middle but I can ask about that. We will definitely check with the NCRS


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