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Thread: Pond sealing. What have you used?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default Pond sealing. What have you used?

    As I near closer to this excavation of a couple ponds, The decision will need to be made on how to seal them. I have no indications yet that there will be good quality clay in the dig to save as sealing material. Lots of sand so if even if there is clay, it will probably be mixed with sand that will ruin the seal.

    There will a combined area of about 1.5 acres of pond. Due to the remote location, hauling anything in will be expensive. I know the tried and true method is Bentonite or other clays found in the bottom. The reason I ask is I have heard that salt has been used successfully to seal ponds. As I understand it, it goes into solution with water, percolates through the bottom, then recrystalizes to block leaks.

    I am open to ideas. We built my dad's pond when I was a boy and to this day, it is not sealed and reinforcing the importance of this in my head.

  2. #2
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    Default Seal

    I watched a youtube clip once about pond sealing, it all depends on what kind of dirt you have. They took a bucket with a bunch of ice pick holes in it. Put dirt in the bucket and covered the holes with six inched of soil, compacted. Then filled the bucket up with water and measured loss over night to determine if soil held water good or not.

  3. #3
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    I have seen sandy soil sealed with chicken manure, then after filling with water, it took a couple weeks for the ammonia level to drop where fish could live in it
    Hi, My name is Dennis, and I am a Rust-a-holic!

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  4. #4

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    Telephone, fiber and CATV companies bore a lot of holes under roads etc. They all use Bentonite as a lubricant and need to dispose of it when done. If you are lucky enough to have a project near you they would be happy to give you lots of it. We also have people using fabric/rubber liners in our area (minnesota). Check around

    Good Luck

    Biggastractor

  5. #5
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    Salt you say? it must be a special kind of salt, the regular calcium chloride would stay in solution unless it was a super saturated solution, but then it would just get leached out as the water migrated through. Have you though about getting some exploratory excavations to see if the available soil will allow a pond?
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  6. #6
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    Regardless, I need the soil for shaping and need the water for irrigation purposes anyway. Going to have to make it work unless blasting is needed,lol. I am basing the soil types on the neighbors which all have ponds, and drill records.

    I certainly agree that test holes is real smart about now but my hoe is not ready to ship out there just yet. I know the soil types there might not be perfectly ideal but I know ponds have been cut in worse materials and do fine. I know there will not be solid sand, rock, or clay.

    I was researching the use of organic matters such as manures. I will have to better understand the physics but seems common in KS. Hay, manure, clippings, etc. Lawn clippings could certainly be found by the truckload for free but I am not quite sure what quality of the organic matter creates a seal just yet.
    Last edited by fastline; 02-28-2012 at 11:09 AM.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2011
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    I did a little more research but still need to chat with a few people. Seems I will have to cut the pond, then analyze the soils as mentioned above. Depending on composition and particle size, I would have to decide a route to take but seems that with my expected soil types, compaction and "gleization" which is the process of adding an organic matter layer that, as I understand it, helps to break up the clay particles and allow them to more effectively plug porosity as well as turn you silt and do their own sealing.

    I think I can find some next to free organic matter but not sure yet how much I will need. I am really hoping that compaction and gleization will get it done.

    Question - I know what I really want for a compaction machine but might have to settle for less. Does anyone have ideas on a compactor? I don't think the dozer will be near enough seeing as how tracks are designed specifically to reduce compaction.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2006
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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    Default Compaction and sealing.

    Hi, Fastline.
    I built over 100 dams and farm ponds with dozers and somewhere close to 40 with track loaders BEFORE I ever used any form of compaction device on an farm earth fill water storage. I only had ONE leak that I know about and I made it a point to enquire about the health of the jobs I had done as and when I had the chance. The one leak was a real weird one. The floor of the dam was ironstone conglomerate which looked like it would be NO problem. The dam filled less than a week after I finished it and was empty again 24 hours later. There were two holes, each about a foot across, in the conglomerate floor where the water had run out. God alone knows where it went. The farmer fixed the problem by filling the holes to within about a foot of the surface with clay and then pouring a concrete plug in each with a huge 'rivet' head on the plug. The best of my knowledge, it never leaked again.

    If you are building your storages with either a scraper or a crawler and pan, you will get more compaction on the dam wall than a dozer by itself. There is a little secret to claying up a wall with a dozer that not many people think about. Especially if your sealing material is a little suspect, lay it on the wall in two, three or even four layers so that it gets better compaction.

    I know it has a cost component attached to it but I have seen leaking dams fixed by spreading lime over the wall, mixing it in with a rotary hoe and then re-compacting. If you can locate the actual leak spot or spots, you can localise the treatment.

    If good sealing clay is at a premium, you could build your walls with a clay core starting from a good clay base and buttress both side of the core with the lesser sealing material as you build up. You just need to make sure that you don't go to sleep too many times when dumping on the wall and put the lesser sealing material in the clay core instead of on either side of it.

    Hope this helps.
    You have a wonderful day. Best wishes.

    Deas Plant.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2007
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    South Carolina
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    Contact DNR, The Department of Natural Resources that used to be called The Soil and Water Conservation Office. They have plans for ponds and will assist with enginnering and construction. Some people think they can save money by not getting them involved but you really don't want to build a pond to anything less than the minimum standards they require. Also there are federal laws that apply to pond construction like where you can build, how high a dam, how many arce feet of water can be retained. Doesn't sound like you're going to need a federal permit but it's best to check...and it's a free service provided by the government.

    Now for dam construction, lay off dam with flags in the center and out to the finished toe of slope. For dead sand you had better plan on the slopes being 3 to 1, that's just about the steepest you can work going sideways. For 2 1/2 to 1 minimum slopes as required by government rags you push up from bottom to top. 2 1/2 to 1 slopes of clay you can work sideways. Now along the center line of the dam you dig down to clay or something(dirt/clay/rock) that will hold water. This is called a "core" or cutoff trench, usually a blade wide (12' wide with usually 1 to 1 side slopes) in the bottom. Back fill and compact this trench with water holding material(clay). Now that you're back to about original ground level you continue to build on top of the cutoff trench with clay in the center of the damn, this is called the "core wall". The core wall starts at the same width as the cut off trench and usually has a 1/2 to 1 slope inward until 10/12 feet wide and about 2' about standing water level of the pond. You can fill the front and back slope with just about any clean material found in the pond or on site.

    Any pipes under the damn will need some type antiseep collar and should be laid in clay. DNR has different designs for pipes. If under the damn with a standing "chimney", the standing pipe must be larger than the pipe under the damn by a formular of (water depth X's under damn pipe diameter). You don't have that problem to worry about with the syphone type pipes/rigs.

    My daddy built well over a 1,000 ponds when I was a kid and I pobably did that many myself....and like Deas, I only had one that leaked. It was one of the very last I built. It would fill up after every rain storm and be bone dry in 24 hours. The water goes straight down in it. The sad part was that it's right beside a busy highway for all the world to see. I offered to fill it back in at no charge but the owner says no that maybe someday it'll hold water.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2006
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    Newfane NY
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    Default

    You can use the following website to look at the soils in your area, and generate reports. It will tell you whether or not your soil will work for a pond, and if you have the type of clay substrate you need for sealing.

    http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/a...oilSurvey.aspx

    I had very sandy soil 7 ft deep before I hit any clay, I used the clay I dug up to seal the banks above the natural clay layer. It was a lot of effort, but it worked.

    Some pics of ponds I dug in sandy loam: http://www.infinity-universe.com/~de...jects/5-25-11/

    Here you can see some pics of the type of soil I was dealing with: http://www.flickr.com/photos/etd66ss/

    Good luck.
    Last edited by ETD66SS; 02-29-2012 at 06:43 AM.

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