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Digging out a pond

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-09-28          97328


Hey guys, first post. I have 15 acres in NW Montana. I am landscaping the place and preparing it for a future RV Park and campground. I have about a 1 acre swamp/pond that I want to dig out to deepen. Any ideas how to go about that? It would be hard to just drain the pond since I think its spring fed.

Thanks,
BC

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2004-09-28          97329


With it being wet, the only method that I can think of is getting a dragline in. If you are not familiar with nomenclature, it is basically a crane with long boom and big heavy bucket with big teeth. Drop it in the center and drag it toward the bank. Water runs off, back into pond. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2004-09-28          97331


I think Yooper has it pretty well nailed there.

Although we have had good luck in the past using pumps top drain the pond and then just walking a regular tracked excavator in to dig from inside.

If you do this however, a word of caution, either make sure you check the pumps regularly or walk all equipment out of the pond every night. I've seen some very expensive submarines in my day.

Best of luck. ....

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shortmagnum
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 848 Wisconsin
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2004-09-28          97332


One of our larger ponds is just over two acres. We had it dug with a dragline. The big challenge with this is that even a dragline with a 90' beam will only reach about 70-80' and a one acre circular pond would be about 115' radius.

Our operator had to start with the machine in the swamp itself on hardwood pads so that he could reach the middle. These pads were logs cabled together to resemble a Tom Sawyer raft and would distribute the machine's weight over a larger area. He would crawl onto one and then swing the second in front of the machine, then crawl onto it, leapfrogging from pad to pad. Then when he finished the middle he moved the pads so that he could dig the pond edges (as well as the dirt he'd already moved).

Draglines and operators are still out there but they tend to be doityourselfers who bought an old machine that still runs.

I think an excavator could do the same job much faster than the dragline but weight may be an issue.
Dave ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2004-09-28          97333


My Dad had a 1 acre pond dug from a swamp when I was a kid. He first let a local farmer pump the swamp dry using irrigation equipment to water a nearby apple orchard. Then he hired a local family with dozers to start digging. About 2/3 way through one of the dozers got stuck and they had to bring in another dozer to pull the first one out. They finished the job with a crane like Yooperpete describes. ....

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beagle
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1333 Michigan
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2004-09-28          97335


Depending on the soil at the bottom of the pond, you may be able to slurry pump the bottom of the pond. We have done this to several boatwells over the years that have sandy bottoms. As long as you aren't in a huge hurry, it works pretty well. We have deapened wells up to 5 feet without any trouble. You do need someplace to pump the slurry where it can drain and dry.

Our issue has always been the Department of Natural Resources. They are more interested in where you are putting the slurry than where you got it from. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-09-28          97336


Thanks guys. There isnt any drag line guys or excavators around that I could find. I thought about a dredge but that is just too complicated and I am afraid it would take a long long time. I do have plenty of area to put the mud to dry/drain. I was hoping it would be something that we could do ourselves.

Maybe a small dredge type pump with a weighted pickupline on a small raft with a 5 gallon fuel tank might work. Every once and a while pull it to another area? anybody know how well they suck vegitation? Ill try to post a picture of the pond later today after work.

Thanks,
BC ....

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Digging out a pond

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
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2004-09-28          97339


There is another way. Do you have access to two tractors and have a little time on your hands? You can make a dirt box which is to boxes back to back. It digs in both directions. You attach a long cable to each end. One tractor pulls it one way, the second tractor the other. If you make a yoke over the front of the bucket at each face and attach a plate with holes the cable can attach in adjustable positions to find the best dig point. Attaching at the front will pull the tip down for digging. Going back and forth digging in both directions and moving slightly at an angle each time will get you around the pond. It may take some practice but you will get it done. ....

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beagle
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1333 Michigan
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2004-09-28          97353


We used a 3" trash pump on a raft. We tied the intake hose to a piece of pipe for forraging around at the bottom of the well. You do need to support the outlet pipe, it gets darn heavy when it's full of slurry. A lot of vegitation could be a problem. Causes plug-ups in the hoses and the pump. If you have soft soil, you can suck the daylights out of the bottom with that set-up.

I've been considering doing my pond (see pic. 9). If I dredge it, I'll slurry pump it, same as we did the boatwells. I have all sand. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-09-28          97356


Check out my pond on pic 1 and 2. The real tall grass around the outside is soft dirt. Picture 2 really shows it best. Its pretty much full of weeds but the water/muck/vegetation is about 3-4 feet deep on the sides. The outlet pipe/hose would have to be pretty long... Maybe too long to push it out good. The hose might just fill and get plugged up easy.

BC ....

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beagle
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2004-09-29          97367


We have pumped over 100 feet. As long as you keep the outlet hose supported, it works ok. Like I said, don't be in a big hurry. It takes some time. ....

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shortmagnum
Join Date: Nov 2003
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2004-09-29          97371


bcripe, I'm not sure where you live in Montana but in many places the ground water level is right below the surface and the springs have very fast flow (such as around Bozeman). If your wetland is spring fed you may never be able to pump it down. Inflow could easily be much greater than outflow. This is the case with my ponds. If the pond is just standing water then you could pump it down.
Dave ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2004-09-29          97374


If you plan on cleaning out the pond with a trash pump it doesn't really matter how fast the water flows back in as long as it's not washing in more muck.

As was mentioned, as long as the ratio between solids and liquids doesn't get too far off balance and the discharge hose is fairly straight it shouldn't be much of a problem.

I wouldn't worry about the length of the discharge line either, especialy if there's a bit of fall to the pipe, the liquid in the line running downhill will actually create a suction and pull everything along pretty good.

We have run disharge pipes many hundreds of feet in cleaning out ponds on golf courses without any problems.

Best of luck. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-09-29          97376


I do believe that this is a spring fed pond. Lots of other ponds in the area are dry now but mines still wet. I suspect that it is not possible to drain the pond. It looks like a pump may just be the best bet then. What is a good pump? How do you guys muck out golf course ponds? I dont mind if it takes a couple of weeks to do.

Thanks alot,
BC ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2004-09-29          97377


There is two basic ways to muck out a pond with a pump.

The first is the 'direct' pump method wherein you drag the pickup line around and sort of vacuum the bottom. This works well, especially where there is a limited amount of water, but it is slow.

We use the second method, known as the agitation method. It involves the use of a second smaller pump to create jet of water to stir up the problem areas and clean them with the suction from the big main pump. This method is very good for things like removing plant growth, or cleaning the edges. If you put up a siltation barrier around the area you are working on this can even be done in a stocked pond.

Best of luck. ....

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Digging out a pond

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-09-29          97378


I do have a small high pressure pump 5.5hp or something like that that I run 2 irrigation sprinklers on. They work really good with a 8 foot draw from the river on the far side of property. Is that pump workable? There really isnt any need for a barrier. Will a 3in trash pump from Northern Tool do the job? Or should I get a bigger pump? Heres a portable dredge.

http://www.piranhapumps.com/portable_dredge_p135e_specs.161.html

Not sure how much it is but maybe Something like this is the answer.

Thanks again,
BC ....


Link:   

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2004-09-29          97382


That is just a heavy duty 3" pump in a specialized floating frame.

A 3" trash pump will work just fine, if you want to go bigger than that, or if you don't expect to need to use it very often, you might want to look into renting one. The other pump you have is all you need for the agitation line, a 1" or bigger hose with a strong stream spray is more than enough to loosen the material and get into suspension.

If you can find, or even borrow, a small irrigation pump from a farmer in the area they work really well too, then you can justify the tractor even more.

Best of luck. ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2004-10-01          97473


If you have an understanding wife, you could do what a buddy of mine did. He bought an old crane at auction and picked up a drag line bucket. That way he could deepen his pond. But, you have to have an understanding wife in order to pursue that route. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2004-10-01          97477


I have a used drag line bucket laying around if you are interested in purchasing one. It is in a real used condition with a number of repair welds! Its about half the size of a VW. If you wish to pursue this approach, tell me and I'll post pictures of it. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
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2004-10-01          97479


How about dynamite charges! Weld extensions to 2" diameter wood auger bit. Float out to several positions (about 12) with generator and heavy-duty 1/2" drill motor. Drill to desired depth about 2 1/2'. Drop in 2 to 3 sticks each connect to electric fuses. Silicon around fuses. Tie leads together above water line and support with sticks beyond shoreline. Touch off simultaneously with generator about 250' away behind tree. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2004-10-01          97483


There's probably several Air Bases in that area.

I would think a 1,000 pounder with a couple of milli-second delay fuse would be easier, besides the debris would be so far away you wouldn't need to worry about.

A couple of jugs might be enough to convince them to make an 'accidental' release of a live one.

Certainly be less fussing about than Yooper's idea, 'course the neighbours might not agree with either method. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-10-01          97492


Yea, I thought about dynamite but where do you even buy that stuff? The Forest Service dynamited a couple of ponds nearby for Moose habitat. Guess they should have run the Moose off first. They killed four! I am still not sure exactly how to go about it. How deep of mud can you drive a cat? Like an older one?

Thanks,
BC ....

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bcripe
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Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-10-02          97532


Well my caretaker took the tractor out to dig a sump hole today and quickly fell through the sod up to the frame. Got real stuck. I guess the wetland/swamp extends much farther than we thought. Our plan was to dig a sump hole to pump water out from. Plan 2?

Thanks,
BC ....

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Digging out a pond

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yooperpete
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2004-10-04          97621


The dynamite thing was kinda meant as a joke but is a labor saving method. You cannot purchase dynamite unless you are registered user, like an owner of a stone quarry. They pretty much are even then under tight control and must state each specific purchase. Do you have a quarry near you. They usually have the equipment that can dig it for you.

I wouldn't recommend driving a Cat in all that muck. You will screw it up bad and get it stuck. We have a saying up-north in our marsh area, if you get a D-6 Cat stuck the only thing that gets it out is a D-8. Our neighbor at the hunting property owns stone quarries in Northern Michigan. One late summer/early fall he cut a trail with the dozer. It sunk in and was their till a dry spell the following August when he brought the D-8 in. Said he didn't have anything bigger that he could get back there and was afraid of getting the '8 stuck.

I still think the draglink method is the best and cheapest alternative. Suggest running an ad in regional papers. They will haul them quite a distance to do a job. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2004-10-04          97630


Yooper's right, you can't buy dynamite without a blaster's license.

You can however, buy high nitrogen fertilizer & diesel fuel, according to the people in Oklahoma City it works really well.

I wouldn't reccomend anything on tracks for wet stuff, they don't float well and can be a real son-of-a-gun to get out of the muck when they stop moving.

I think the only two realistic possibilities are a) dragline, or b) get a wide pad excavator and wait for freeze-up. A foot or two of solid frost will keep a good sized machine sitting on top of most moose pasture.

Best of luck. ....

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Iowafun
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2004-10-04          97632


Well, if you have teenagers, you could do what my dad would have done. He would have handed me a snorkle, a shovel and a bucket. He never would spend the money on rental equipment when he had a teenage son who had friends.

From the way it sounds, I'd try some of the drag line options people have listed or hire it out to someone that knows how to handle their equipment in the marsh conditions. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
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2004-10-04          97673


Thanks alot guys. The pond is about 200x250 feet with probably at least a 50 foot ring of soft soil. It would be quite a project. Especially if a 90 foot boom will only drag line out 70-80 feet. Sounds like that may be too much.

The way I see it there are really only two viable options.

Try to drag / rake something across to kill / remove the weeds in the middle. Put in some beneficial bacteria to break down vegetation, sunshade stuff to prevent new from growing and suction dredge it next year.

Or

Get a bulldover / excavator in there this winter when its frozen and go to town. Not sure how effective they would be going through 1 foot of ice to frozen ground? What do you guys think of this?

Thanks again!
BC ....

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shortmagnum
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2004-10-05          97695


With the size of the pond, in the winter an excavator should be able to reach the middle and start digging there. That foot of frozen soil/mud should not be a big problem once the machine starts a hole and gets under the frost to break it out from below. They may also be able to truck the soil away from the pond edge right away.
Dave ....

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Murf
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2004-10-05          97715


The important thing if you want to work on top of the frost is to make sure that the frost gets down as far as possible.

You have to keep the snow cleared away and let the cold get to the ground or water. If snow is allowed to remain it will insulate the ground or water and the heat of the earth will limit the frost penetration or ice build-up.

We do this to make ice roads up here across lakes, rivers and MANY hundreds of miles of swamp to reach mining camps and remote villages.

I would not recomend a dozer, they will chew through the frost and sink in. An excavator will stay on top.

Best of luck. ....

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harvey
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2004-10-06          97762


This is interesting. You might build a bridge to the center. Using a hyd excavator long reach use virgin soil from behind build bridge to center then work your way back out and around. A dozer with wide pads would work removing the spoils. ....

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davewarr
Join Date: Oct 2004
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2004-10-25          99198


I recently had a large springfed pond cleaned out and deepened form 12' to 30'.

The pond was 570'x 900' the contractor that did it brought in a cat and pushed a dirt berm out so that his excavator could reach where he needed.

it only took 6 berms to complete the job but it took almost a year for the water to clear again.

But if you have it done this way don't forget to bring a large checkbook ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2004-10-29          99474


Unfortunately, I dont really have much dirt to push out to build a pad. How well with an excavator dig through ice? If I was to do it this winter after everything froze up. I could clear out a road and a working pad so that the ground freezes really good. I am just not sure how well it could break through the ice.

Ahhh, I see on page 3 where this was already recommended... :-) I think Ill give it a shot. ....

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jdjames
Join Date: Nov 2004
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2004-11-16          100420


Very curious about the trash pump idea for removing silt and mud from a tidal ditch where I want water for the boat on every tide. Would this idea work for this application? ....

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beagle
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2004-11-17          100432


We use this method to keep our boat wells clear in Norhtern Michigan. Mostly sandy silt and silt. The looser the settlement, and the fewer organics that are mixed in, the better the results. We can clear a foot of muck from a 24'x 12' boatwell in an afternoon, no problem. ....

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Murf
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2004-11-17          100434


JD, the one thing you will have to be aware of though is if it is the tide itself bringing in the silt, you will be fighting a losing battle.

Natural erosion or siltation is a powerful force, the Army Corp. of Engineers spends a whole lot of time and effort on combating this very thing every year.

The best way to clear it, and keep it clear, is to make sure that the tidal flow sweeps the ditch clean every time.

Best of luck. ....

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jdjames
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2004-11-17          100442


The area fills in with land slope runoff. My neighbor is going to bulkhear his property, (I have a seawall). I'm ging to try this when his work is completed. Also thinking about a piece of pvc with holes drills in it to wash out the area on outgoing tides only. Would take longer, but work?
Thanks for help. ....

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Murf
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2004-11-17          100443


If the area is filling with sediment from run-off you will find it is much easier to deal with the sediment BEFORE it gets to the water.

You need to develop some form of trap for the sediment. The usual method is to make some form of depression or pond-like structure near the ditch, this way the sediment can settle in the depression before the water drains into the outlet.

They sell a cloth product generically called geo-textile fabric which will allow water to pass through but not sediment.

The simplest way may be to have the water settle into a depression and bury some drainage tile underneath, this will allow the water to seep awy but the soil will stay behind.

Best of luck. ....

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trbomax
Join Date: Apr 2004
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2005-04-26          110375


Beagle, did you build the retaining wall around your pond ? ....

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