Ponds leak for a variety of reasons and we are requested to consult with landowners with ponds frequently. Some are old. Some are new. Classic reasons for leaking:
- Nutria, muskrat or other hole digging varmints.
- Crawfish- we are in Louisiana and crawfish can burrow too deep in the wrong direction.
- Trees- I love trees. A weed is a plant in the wrong place. Trees do not belong on pond or lake dams. Why? When they die as a whole or partly, the dead roots degrade and provide an open channel for water transfer. Should a storm hit a tree on a dam, it can turnover, uproot the soil and cause a catastrophic “damn failure.” “Damn failure” is what it will be if you allow a couple of million gallons of water destroy property downstream from you-yours or your neighbor’s.
- A shift in hydrology. Ok when I hear the pond is “spring fed” from the bottom and I ask about it… My new pond friend responds… “I don’t know where it is but the guy that dug it said he hit a spring before he pulled out, and the pond filled up but now it won’t hold.” So the pond may have come in contact with the water in the ground, and it did fill. However, when the hydrology retreats in a drier season or year, your pond water will escape through the bottom. You literally cannot pump water in fast enough to fill it. Sometimes there can be a shift or a bottom clay seal failure and this can happen later in the life of the pond.
- Improper construction- this is almost always the issue. Pond construction has rules, and you can break the rules, but sometimes the rules break you. We can go into more detail in another article on construction but, pond levees need proper size and a clay core, well-packed to seal. Drain pipes need a collar of cement around them to prevent channeling of water. Pond bottoms need to be sealed with good, quality clay and compacted. A sheep’s foot roller is best because it kneads the clay strata together like dough and mashes it into an impermeable layer. Get your clay tested and use it if acceptable. Otherwise get good quality clay brought in to seal your pond.
There are commercial liners available and we have supplied them and used them. They cost money (product, shipping, installation) and they need good installation with a good bit of preparation to install. If it is large, then seams will need to be sealed between large panels. This adds up. We have several suppliers and can select the best liner for your pond and consult on installation, if this is the appropriate method for sealing your pond.
Bentonite is a high-grade slimy, sealing clay. This can be good for enhancing your soil/clay that you are using to seal your pond or for sealing problematic areas. It is available in 50 lb bags as a crumble or a large pellet. I have used this to solve some existing leaks, seen it used as an enhancement, and seen it used to fill holes (crawfish holes, etc.). I have heard of drilling into dams and pumping a liquid version into dams to seal leaks. This sounds like a fix for a bad construction mistake.
Well, last year I had nothing for you. This year we have had success with a new product. We have successfully used an industrial polymer to seal several ponds. The first opportunity came for a client with a three acre pond. We will call him “Mike” especially since that is his real name. He had constructed a beautiful pond with a nice dam and installed a well to fill it. We were well (no pun intended) on our way, installing aeration, a fountain, fish structures and celebrating a great start for his fishing pond…. then the water did not hold.
Turn off his fantastic well and the pond drops 6 feet. So I researched options. Soil Floc was my target. I try to be selective about vendors and choose them after some established experience, good support with communication and accountability. Enter our hero, Sandy (a real name also). This was a new product for us and I visited with Sandy, evaluated the soil and pond conditions, sent photos, and even had a conference call with Mike and Sandy to evaluate our chances of success and risk of the product not being able to seal. We all agreed to give it a try. The short story…. We spread the product evenly across the two remaining acres of the three acre pond, turned on the well and it worked perfectly sealing the pond and bringing it up to full level.
So the installation was CRAZY! I immediately had to see what was going to happen and mixed both parts of the two-part formula and wetted it with some clay. It made an indescribable slime that expanded like the “Blob” in the 1950s movie. I tried washing it off and I think it actually moved up my hand, but even if I am exaggerating, it did NOT come off. Ok, we are going to need all of the old trashy towels off the work truck for management. It is also slippery. Did I mention slippery? We are putting this out using a boat and our fertilizer spreader was not perfect. Some got to the bottom of the wet floor of the boat. Before we could find enough cardboard to cover it, boat operations turned into something that looked like an advanced game of “Twister,” because all fours was the preferred method of keeping your balance.
As always, if you have inquiries about this service, or have any needs for your lake or pond, please contact us at: (225) 308-4145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.