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Pond Problem

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2005-06-27          112823


I am wondering if anyone has had any experience building and/or owning clay-lined ponds. I would like to build a 1-acre recreational pond for swimming and fishing. Last week I had my excavator dig a few test-pits to determine soil content. Unfortunately, we hit shale at about 4 to 5 feet. In order to prevent the pond from leaking, I would have to line the bottom and banks with cohesive clay soil. This is a lot of extra work. My question is… is it worth it? Has anyone had a similar experience with building a pond in a shale area? I have ponds all around me, and no one seems to have a problem. Unfortunately none of these people built them themselves, so I cant ask them how they did it.

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Pond Problem

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2005-08-11          114739


I dug a 300,000 gallon and a 500,000 gallon pond for a guy with brown clay for the first 5' and the rest of the 20' was blue. Unless I'm missing something, clay by nature, is cohesive and it's also not impervious---so ground water can penetrate it (even a fired, unglazed clay pot will absorb or allow water to penetrate it). I have heard people say they lined the pond with clay but it stands to reason that any pressure change or differential on either side of the clay (earth versus water) dictates which way the water will flow. In my opinion it all goes back to the ground water level (water table). Water level too low: the pond will leak back into the surrounding earth. Too high: the pond will fill up until it reaches water level. If you must line it to prevent leakage a synthetic liner is probably the way to go. Use the clay as liner or to protect the liner from the shale. For reference the pond levels in the ponds I dug drop as much as 3-4 feet from Spring to Fall. ....

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Pond Problem

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2005-08-11          114741


I guess a first question would be to ask what will the pond water supply be fed by? Spring? Creek? Season Steam? Storm run off? It will make a big difference in the design and configuration of your pond. I have a pond that is pretty much fed from seasonal run off and perhaps a small spring. During the summer months the water level has gone down almost 4 feet. I suspect the pond has gone totally dry in the past at some point as there are no fish in it; just frogs. I have three other ponds down on the river bottom pasture that are fed by a year round spring. These ponds pretty much mantain a steady state water level. Being fed by a steady spring, the pond does not have to depend on being absolutely water tight but vice versa; the opposite would be true. I would suggest that you contact your local NRCS representative and/or your local field extension agent. They can offer you a wealth of information on this subject and possibly cost share info. as well. ....

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Pond Problem

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7151 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2005-08-12          114751


As was already alluded to here, the biggest factor in determining the success of a dug pond is NOT the soil type, but rather the level and quantity of water supply.

In the course of our work we dig and create a LOT of ponds.

In my own yard as an example, I have a small dug pond, it is about 50' round(ish) and about 12' deep in the deepest part (see lower right corner my picture # 1), but it is dug in pure clean sand. In this case the lack of a liner doesn't matter, the water level is the water table in that area. I even pump huge quanities of water from it on a regular basis, the level doesn't move an inch.

Test pits only tell you half the story. Find what if any water supply you have available and how plentiful it is.

Best of luck. ....

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