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How to Build a Farm Pond


Both practical and idyllic, farm ponds are a dream for many amateur farmers. Clear, clean water surrounded with the aid of lush grasses and possibly a weeping willow tree can be the photograph that first involves mind, however achieving that dream is often a high-priced and complicated affair, if possible in any respect. But you’ll realize if it’s viable in case you understand the lay of your land, the manner water actions via it and the basic necessities for constructing a pond.

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There is a lot more to building a pond than digging a hole and letting it fill. If you don’t have a background in engineering, you’re going to want outside help to make it show up. There are critical criminal liabilities involved in dam creation (i.E. If it breaks) and you could have a mountain of red tape to climb so one can get a allow, depending on the scale and area of the pond you need to build.

Water and the Law
Many rural landowners don’t realize that they don’t very own the water that flows throughout their assets. The significant majority of lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams – all the manner right down to the tiniest tributaries that you could jump throughout in a unmarried bound – are, from a felony perspective, considered Waters of the USA.

Doing something that impacts these waters requires permission from the EPA below the Clean Water Act. Any water that is not covered under federal jurisdiction is often protected underneath nation legal guidelines. In California, every drop of water is regulated, whether or not it’s in Lake Tahoe, a puddle at the streets of Los Angeles or in an aquifer beneath the Central Valley.


Ponds for legitimate agricultural purposes – irrigation or watering cattle, as an example – are exempt from most permitting necessities. However, you will nonetheless have to file for the exemption, which might also contain quite a piece of bureaucracy itself. If you simply need a pond to swim in, you’ll likely want a permit, that is granted at the discretion of the environmental safety division in every country (the state-level enforcement palms of the EPA). The farther away the pond is from a year-spherical circulation, the less complicated it is going to be to attain a allow.

Before you get carried away with grand visions of a farm pond, seek advice from your nearby Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) workplace to discover approximately the policies that pertain to your private home. The NRCS is a branch of the USDA charged with helping landowners preserve soil and water resources and can endorse you on whether or not you want a permit and, if so, which employer you need to use to. They provide unfastened technical help – and from time to time monetary subsidies – for constructing ponds.

Water Sources
There are numerous feasible water resources for your pond, though you can need a aggregate of a couple of to preserve your pond complete year-round. Here are some of the pros, cons and crucial statistics regarding every:

Surface Runoff. Ponds which can be stuffed through rainwater that flows into them over the surface of the land are the perfect to get a permit for because they generally don’t have any detrimental impact on streams and aquatic organisms. As a general rule, you may want as a minimum three acres of land draining into the pond for each acre-foot of pond quantity. (An acre-foot is just what it sounds like – the quantity of water contained in an acre of water that is 1 foot deep.)

In locations that lack summer time rainfall, like a whole lot of the Western U.S., ponds fed simplest by means of floor runoff slowly dry up over the course of the summer. They are also at risk of being cloudy because of the soil debris contained in the runoff.

Groundwater. On its personal, groundwater is usually now not sufficient as the sole source of water for a pond, but it may make a widespread contribution to ponds fed via floor runoff, that means a smaller drainage region is required. The maximum groundwater is to be had in low-lying areas with a high water desk. However, slight slopes with wet soils (seepages) are an ideal location to build a pond.

Springs. Springs arise wherein seepages have sufficient volume to return above floor in a non-stop flow. Spring-fed ponds may not require any floor runoff to maintain them complete, that means they may be clear, smooth and bloodless. Using spring water to fill your pond may additionally cause permit necessities in some places, but it’s miles the ideal supply of water for a farm pond.

Streams. It is very tough to get a permit for constructing a pond without delay in a circulate (there are critical environmental motives for this). More often, a portion of streamflow can be diverted to help fill a pond in an adjoining area.

Wells. You can pump nicely water to fill a pond, though the electricity to accomplish that is steeply-priced except your pump is solar-powered. Well water is usually taken into consideration a practical source simplest for small ponds, or to top off massive ponds for the duration of dry spells.

Pond Design and Construction
Most farm ponds are built in a drainage basin on lightly sloping terrain. The earth that is excavated for the pond basin is used to assemble the dam. However, there need to be enough clay content within the soil for the pond to maintain water – 20 percentage clay content is the recommended minimum.

Follow those steps to locate the approximate clay content of your soil:

Collect soil samples from several holes within the area of the pond site. Make sure to dig below the dark black topsoil and gather your samples from the subsoil.
Mix a handful of soil from each hollow in a quart-size Mason jar.
Fill the jar with water to inside 2 inches of the top and shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.
Set the jar on a desk in which it is able to remain undisturbed for twenty-four hours and look at the soil particles as they acquire on the bottom. Sand particles will right now fall to the bottom of the jar, followed by way of silt debris (which can be barely smaller and lighter than sand debris) in an effort to gather on pinnacle of the sand over the following couple of minutes. The clay debris, which are exponentially smaller than both sand or silt, will slowly shape a layer on top of the silt over a 24-hour period.
Once the water is apparent, use a ruler to measure the thickness of the 3 distinct layers at the bottom of the jar and calculate the relative percent of every.
If your soil does no longer have sufficient clay, you may import heavy clay from a landscape supply employer and spread it over the bottom of the pond and the interior of the dam to save you the pond from leaking. Rubber pond liners are some other option, even though they are extremely high-priced for all however the smallest ponds.

If your pond requires a permit, the local regulatory corporation will possibly require an engineer to layout it. If no allow is required, there are professional pond builders in maximum rural areas which are qualified to design and build a fundamental farm pond. After you do your homework to decide practicalities of building a pond to your land, reach out for your neighbors for references on neighborhood pond builders. Make sure they have got adequate liability insurance and are skilled in constructing ponds for the specific reason you have in mind.


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