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Digging Small Lakes

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rtbeng
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 7 USA
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2010-03-09          169058


We have 45 acres in Wortham, Texas, which I plan to build an Algae Farm to raise Algae for Feedstock and other byproducts. The water table is depleted (so you have to go 1K feet to get it. I plan to make it all self sufficient, so I will use the seasonal creeks and rain for collection.
We would like to have 5-20 acres (approx 9-10 feet deep) dug out and sell the soil (using what we need to seal off the lakes. Due to Obamanomics, we do not have equipment at this time to do this, so we were looking to have someone who purchases the soil to remove it for us. The creeks and rain will fill the lakes and the overflow will go into a main creek which runs in the middle of the property. This is in the Crockett Series:
The Crockett series consists of moderately well drained, very slowly permeable soils on uplands. These soils are deep to weathered shale. They formed in alkaline shale’s and clays. Slopes range from 0 to 8 percent.
Typical pedon of Crockett fine sandy loam, 1 to 3 percent slopes; from the intersection of Farm Road 27 and Farm Road 246 about 2 miles east of Wortham, 0.15 mile north on Farm Road 246, and 120 feet east in pasture:
A—0 to 7 inches; dark brown (10YR 4/3) fine sandy loam; weak fine subangular blocky structure; hard, very friable; common fine and medium roots; few siliceous gravel; slightly acid; abrupt wavy boundary.
Bt1—7 to 15 inches; mottled dark grayish brown (2.5Y 4/2), very dark grayish brown (2.5Y 3/2) and red (2.5YR 4/6) clay; weak coarse prismatic structure parting to weak coarse angular blocky; extremely hard, very firm; common fine and medium roots; few siliceous pebbles; common pressure faces; slightly acid; gradual wavy boundary.
Bt2—15 to 25 inches; dark grayish brown (2.5Y 4/2) clay; common medium distinct light olive brown (2.5Y 5/4) and prominent red (2.5YR 4/6) mottles; weak coarse angular blocky structure; extremely hard, very firm; few fine roots; few siliceous pebbles; common pressure faces; few slickensides; few fine black concretions; neutral; clear wavy boundary.
Bt3—25 to 39 inches; dark grayish brown (2.5Y 4/2) clay; weak coarse angular blocky structure; extremely hard, very firm; few fine roots; few siliceous pebbles; common slickensides; few fine black concretions; neutral; clear wavy boundary.
BC—39 to 46 inches; light olive brown (2.5Y 5/4) clay; common fine distinct brownish yellow (10YR 6/6) mottles; weak coarse angular blocky structure; extremely hard, very firm; few fine roots; few fine black concretions; few concretions and soft masses of calcium carbonate; moderately alkaline; clear wavy boundary.
C—46 to 60 inches; mottled dark grayish brown
(2.5Y 4/2), grayish brown (10YR 5/2) and reddish yellow (7.5YR 6/8) shale; massive; very hard, firm; few black concretions; few concretions and soft masses of calcium carbonate; few lenses of brownish silty clay loam; moderately alkaline.

Any suggestions to start, since we do not have enough room here to go into it?



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Digging Small Lakes

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2010-03-09          169061


Oh my, I'm not even sure where to start on this one, but lets begin with some basic numbers so we know what we're talking about as far as the scope of the project.

First off, the dirt, lots of dirt. 5 acres 10 feet deep would generate about 2.2 million cubic feet, or 80,750 cubic yards of dirt.

Now moving the dirt, that 80,750 cubic yards would fill about 4,100 dump trucks.

If you step up to the other end of the scale, 20 acres would be enough dirt to fill 16,400 dump trucks.

Now, the other big problem you will have is digging the dirt. Industry standards say it will cost roughly $2.50 per yard to dig that dirt. So for a thumbnail calculation, figure about 16,150 yards per acre times $2.50 / acre to dig, the excavation costs alone would be about $40k per acre.

So excavation would be between $200k for 5 acres, to about $800k for 20 acres.

Now you have to get rid of that 4,100 to 16,400 dump trucks worth of dirt. I don't know that area much other than what Google shows me, but I certainly can't see any place nearby that would 'buy' that dirt, maybe up in the Dallas area, but that's ~80 miles and it would take a lot of cash away to truck it up there.

IMHO, the chances of someone willing to spend a million plus dollars for dirt that's 80'ish miles away are about the same as hitting the lottery.

Now the other problem you will likely have is the lining of the lake. Based on your description of the soils, it won't hold any water. If it's not clay lined it won't be a lake, just a big mud hole, a big expensive mud hole. If you have to bring in sealant (clay) add another $10k to $30k per acre to import and spread it.

Now on to the water issue itself.

You say "The creeks and rain will fill the lakes and the overflow will go into a main creek which runs in the middle of the property.". To me that says mountains of paperwork, permits and studies because you're talking about damning up a water course.

All in all, I wish you the very best of luck. I suspect you will need heaps of it.



Best of luck.

....

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
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2010-03-09          169065


Fine sandy loam is certainly marketable (at least around here), but it's not very deep on your land, so one question is the marketability of the lower layers. Another is how you would harvest all those acres of algae. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-03-09          169066


Yep and diesel is approaching $3 per gal US here, so Murf what does that do to your numbers?

Around here the first thing we have to get is mining permit for ANY dirt the is dug that is removed from the site. And if you live on the island (Grosse Ile, MI) you're not allowed to take it off the island. ....

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rtbeng
Join Date: Mar 2010
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2010-03-09          169073


To Murf and all,

Update:

Thanks for the response. Wortham is less than a 1000 people -- very nice small town. All this would be done over a period of time (unless someone really has the money and wants dirt/gravel now). As you pointed out, there's allot of 'Numbers' and would be a major project. Being A Sr. Automation Engineer, I'm trying to do my homework. From the information given me, so far, from the Local Government officials, Excavation companies and Realtors---- it seems I'm lucky on the 'Permits,' since I am outside the city limits, in the County and I would not be damming up the main creek (which runs all the time from the sewer plant and businesses in town. (it’s Ok, but I don’t think you’d want to drink out of it at this time – (cleanliness in the future). I would be diverting the Seasonal creek into the first lake (set south of the main creek) and then the over flow would ‘join’ in the main creek. It would not disrupt any ‘normal flow, instead would capture clean rain water to use otherwise.

What I would be looking for would be a large Highway project or company dealing in dirt and gravel/ rock. I could use some of the clay to line the lake that is already there, as they excavate it. I’m told that the ponds and lakes in the area hold water very well. Past 60 inches, is more clay and Cliché and rock. We also have a number of ‘Rock Crusher’ plants in the area. So there may be potential markets there. Additionally, there is another major Highway project that will be running in the ‘Triangle’ from DFW to Mexico coming up. This all may be ‘Wishful thinking, but it’s in the planning stage at this point.

The plan is, if possible, find a buyer, to cover most or all the cost by selling the soil and they remove, and transport it themselves. From what I have seen, most of the top soil is selling retail for $25 -$35++ a cubic yard. So, if they buy it for $5-$10 a cubic yard, seem it could be feasible, but like you say --- depending on how far they have to transport it.

As for the Algae Farm, this would be raised Vertically, hence being able to raise in a controlled situation more on 1/8 acre as it would normally be able on 1 acre. Additionally, the main focus would be Fully automated, which would reduce cost to a minimum. (taking advantage of being a Sr. Automation/Validation Engineer. You may see my background on the LinkedIn link URL attached. Since we’re having so much ‘Fun’ in this Obamanomics, all it takes is ‘Money’—Right! I would be using the funds to help finance this project (AF) and the water would be a resource, as needed. Rainfall averages about 44-48 inches per year, and temperatures range from an average high of 94° F in July to an average low of 36° in January.
....


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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
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2010-03-10          169080


The scale of your proposal seems daunting, so why don't you look into mounting a demonstration project. If you can't fund that personally, there are various groups and individuals to approach: ecological, cattle, philanthropic, governmental, international, food, etc. And if algae can feed cattle, I wonder what other uses you could find for it. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2010-03-10          169081


A couple of points based on your latest info.;

First of all, dirt is cheap, handling it isn't. As an example, your idea regarding highways jobs, good idea, but I'd be surprised if they even took your phone call. All highways (and railways for that matter) are designed around a concept of "balanced cut & fill". That is to say, they generate the same number of yards of dirt from "cut" through hills, etc., as they need to "fill" the valleys or low spots. They also try to keep transporting dirt to a minimum because it's very costly. If the highway job is part of the Interstate system, this policy is mandatory in order to qualify for the $$$ subsidies.

Now since I've touched on costs, lets look at those numbers again for a minute. You seem to be ~75 miles from the DFW area, so it would be a 150 mile round-trip. Based on a 20 yard load, and it taking about 4 hours to do it, and that truck costing about $80/hour, it would be a $320 trip, so for 20 yards it would be $16/yard for trucking. Add to that the $2.50/yard to dig and load it, now we're at $18.50/yard. In order to sell it for the kind of prices you're looking at it's certainly screened soil, so add another $2.50/yard for that. Now we're at a cost $21/yard, and that's before we even look at you getting a penny, or any profit at all. This is also I'm sure based on "topsoil" of which this project looks to be about 15% the rest is just plain old dirt.

Best of luck. ....

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Digging Small Lakes

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rtbeng
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 7 USA
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2010-03-10          169082


Thanks for the suggestions. I have checked and I’m still checking other sources for funding the project. As far as products for the Algae, there are a number of other byproducts the main (at this time being Feedstock for Biofuels, there is feed supplements for animals, Pharmaceutical, medical and a list of other. The reason we chose Algae, is that is does not compete with the food chain and is more productive than the other sources for this purpose. We have one strain, which produces more lipids and is raised in the dark. Either way, it is a long process. If this can get off the ground, then we plan to purchase the tractor rig and move up there fulltime. Allot of planning! ....


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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2010-03-10          169084


Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbeng | view 169082
If this can get off the ground, then we plan to purchase the tractor rig and move up there fulltime. Allot of planning!


Ok, I new the opportunity to stick in a bad joke would appear sooner or later in this thread, so before Jeff gets the chance......

How do you keep the tractor running under 10' of water? LOL


Best of luck. ....

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rtbeng
Join Date: Mar 2010
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2010-03-10          169085


I Love it!
It is so good to have a number of ‘Minds’ to evaluate a project with. I really appreciate all the input. This is a key factor on all the projects I've had over the last 30+ years. I have always tried to emphasize the importance of ‘asking the right questions up front and compare previous projects, then combine the good and shuck the bad, to develop the most cost effective approach.

Researching the area potential and the proposed projects, there are a number of possibilities, within less mileage, to get this accomplished. As far as profit, that is a variable from what the market may offer to getting it out (at minimum or no profit) just to have the soil removed and make to pond/Lake (which should improve the value of the property). If we can be so lucky to get any profit from it, that would be a plus, but the effects and having the water available for other use, would be the benefit. The main goal would be to keep our cost down to make the project ultimately cost effective.

At the moment we have the 45 acres (which has Mesquite trees in the pastures and good grass --- anybody want to have a Barbeque?), which I have had ¼ Bladed off the Mesquite. Our goal on this section of land, is to improve it and use it for the Algae project. We will be planning to acquiring additional land later to improve and resell, using the profits to compound and support the project.

Does this seem reasonable.
....


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rtbeng
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2010-03-10          169086


How do you keep the tractor running under 10' of water?

A Tall Intake and Exhaust Pipe? Of course, you’ll need Scuba gear, Ha! Otherwise, -----Excavate FAST ----- before it rains!!! ....


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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2010-03-10          169089


RTB, when I used the word 'profit' was referring to anyone who might 'buy' your soil, not you making a profit.

There is no reason for anyone to buy your soil except a) they need soil and yours is the cheapest, or b) they want to resell it for a profit.

IMHO, the chance of either are, in your case, slim to none.

Also, while thinking out this reply, it occurred to me I was a little off in one aspect of my calculations, the number of truck loads.

When you dig up soil you lose the compaction it is under when in it's native state, undisturbed. This adds about 30% by volume. This is what causes settling after you fill an area, or the hump left when you refill a hole.

That said, a 20 acre hole would not generate 16,400 dump trucks, it would more likely be around 21,500 truck loads.

I'm still not sure you grasp the full extent of the earthworks we are talking about here.


Best of luck. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
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2010-03-10          169093


I'm reminded of a buddy who was ecstatic he was going to a millionaire when a paving company next door to him gave him 300,000 cyds that was stripped from a plot to make an inland port for Chrysler to store cars. Then the economy tanked and he tried selling it for $2 a yard, then 50 cents, then free. He got rid of about 2/3 of it in 6 years--all the while the township threatened many times to sue him to get rid of it since it was an eyesore and weed nusiance.

If it sounds to good to be true...
....

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rtbeng
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2010-03-10          169095


Point well taken! I do understand where y'all are coming from. I’m not jumping into the fire on this. I’m trying to research everything first and then see what may come around as reality. I have looked at both sides of this and Yes, it would be nice to think we could sell all of it and make a great amount, but I'm realistic enough to realize that would be the topping on the dream. NADA!

Reality, I would probably come closer to Bartering for what we wish to accomplish. One good piece of good news, today, I talked to the County Commissioner and the Service Department in Wortham and found out they have a project coming up, which they will need soil. So, we will be talking! This will be about 2 miles from our land, so, something may be able to be worked out. It’s a start.

Again I thank all for the comments and it has been a good discussion. As one once said in one of my favorite movies, “I’ve Enjoyed this Conversation” (The Last Samurai)! Anything else anyone wants to add, we appreciate the input.
....


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