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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Acquired property 15 years ago, had a 1/2-acre pond in bad repair. I knew it leaked, had every intention of fixing it. Designed and built a house, moved in 2008. Mrs. Whiskers went thru breast cancer treament shortly thereafter, I came down with some debilitating unknown illness in 2010 that now is diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis. So the pond repair got on the back burner, way back. Forced to retire from aerospace manufacturing in May of 2020, retired this May from 80 colonies of bees and honey business. Have time, new meds are giving some relief, so going to tackle the pond! Maybe bit off more than I can chew, but we'll see.
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Pond water inlet flow was cut off before I bought by a road paving project that separated the road ditch from overflowing the previously gravel road. Good intentions by a neighborhood association did not consider the total effect, I pay the price. Plenty of water drainage from 18 to 25 acres above thru the ditch but cannot get it across the road. Let's go under.

What ultimately failed the packed seal on the bank (blue clay) is the fact that it dried out when the water dried up, cracked, and let the seapage turn into a tunnel. Cannot excavate in the road ditch, as utilities (neighborhood electric, water, phone, cable) all intersect there. No way to put a headwall on a culvert without risk of cutting something. I carved up a 15.5 gallon stainless beer keg I found on CL (guy was brewing beer) and fabricated a surface mount diversion basin that sits in the road ditch. Connects two 4" Sch 40 pipes running under the road to a swale for the pond inlet. Problem solved. Installation early August. I have a plate fitted to the back of the basin that can bee removed to allow ditch to bypass if I do not want to take water.
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Killed all the saplings and pulled with the tractor. Killed all the bank weeds with Rodeo. Killed all the cattails with Rodeo. Had to make tools to cut the dead cattails, used 1/2 inch rebar and added a titanium blade to make a little scythe that reaches ten feet out to slice off at the bottom. Made a hooked rake from an old potato fork and added ten foot handle and twenty foot rope for pulling in masses of vegetation and muck.

In the process of cutting the cattails now. Then will pull them onto the bank to dry and burn.
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Found the leak, about as big as two five gallon buckets, draining under the dam and way under the property thru the valley and into the dry arm of Elk Creek. Have excavator/pond specialist coming to fix this and repack the banks all around as soon as I get the vegetation burned off. Using his laser, confirmed that the dam about 2/3 around is a good 2-1/2 feet higher than it needs to be, so will scrape all of that topsoil off and repurpose in the yard. Should leave me a good level grass plateau around the pond, maybe for a gazebo or?

Plan to fabricate structure mimicking trees and brush from concrete in a bucket with 1/2 inch plastic tubing inserted. These will vary in height from 2 ft to 10 ft, as the pond will vary to 12 feet. Good for topwater fishing, and pretty much snag resistant for underwater. Maybe aerator or fountain later if needed. What chemicals to use to keep cattails and duckweed out after this is up and running? Other tips/tricks?
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Here's a link to The Division of Wildlife's pond management book:


If your having an excavator in to recore the pond then I wouldn't worry about killing and removing the vegetation. Drain it and have them demuck it and haul it all away. Then blanket core your pond. To do all the work your doing and then not demuck it will not give you the results you are hoping for. You said a pond expert was there and shot grade....I am surprised he did not recommend dredging out the muck. You will never satisfactorily defeat the cattails if you don't clean the bottom and reslope your banks to a 3:1 slope or greater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here's a link to The Division of Wildlife's pond management book:


If your having an excavator in to recore the pond then I wouldn't worry about killing and removing the vegetation. Drain it and have them demuck it and haul it all away. Then blanket core your pond. To do all the work your doing and then not demuck it will not give you the results you are hoping for. You said a pond expert was there and shot grade....I am surprised he did not recommend dredging out the muck. You will never satisfactorily defeat the cattails if you don't clean the bottom and reslope your banks to a 3:1 slope or greater.
Thanks for the link and tips. The banks are at least 3:1, and in most areas closer to 1:1. Cattails have been growing for over 20 years, just a big mess. Will demuck after getting rid of the mass. The booklet will come in handy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
MAKING PROGRESS, DREDGING

SOUTHERNSAUG,
Please advise if it looks like I'm getting the best part of the muck out.

I farmerized a 3500 lb winch with another manufacturer's wireless remote onto my old Massey Ferguson 135 tractor. Had to invent a cable steering mechanism because the winch folks don't really pay attention and the cable will get all birdsnested, so this allows me to lay the cable on the drum in consistent tight wraps.

The cutting was getting the best of me, backbreaking (wimpy in my old age). I got stuck in the muck and clay in three feet of water, walked off a platform of cut cattails into five feet. Didn't think I was getting out. Now I don't go near the water, no slime in the boots, no bending and pulling.

I put a tail rope onto the treble grab hook, hook the free end across the pond onto a belt at my hips, and pay out cable/hook under tension into the pond with the wireless to place the hook where I want to grab. Then walk back to the tractor and haul in whatever will come up. Got three stumps so far (cutoff and dumped years ago), and the cattails are in mats that come up with roots and a bit of blue clay and a ton of black rotsnot. The remnants sticking out of the water surface are old rotted stalks that were buried under the cutoffs I did, got scraped up in the dredging get that any more with just hooking and pulling en masse. Some of the clumps coming up must weigh in the one-ton range. They will lay on the bank and dry to be burnt, or I will contract someone with a trackhoe and dumptruck to move them off. Tire Wheel Plant Vehicle Plant community
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Creative thinking Dennis. Have you thought about pumping out the water in the pond/ I 'm sure you can find a pump at Harbor Freight. or maybe Craigslist.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks, I'm about 1/3 done. Going to be a long August. Bit, I can see the current improvement and envision the pond as desirable water feature instead of a dead hole. The stuff is easier to pull in the water, easier to get started getting the roots to come out. Pumpdown will be after the bulk of vegetation is out.
 

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I pull cat tails out our ponds from time to time. I always try to get the entire root system. I know how much work it is, but I’ve never done it on your scale. I can’t wait to see your finished product. Good luck with your project!
 

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Absolutely I agree with the others, your getting it done. That's a neat set up. I agree with muddy once you get all the plant mass out drain it and have a track hoe get the muck. What you have done will make a huge improvement. Just keep after the cattails after you refill. I applaud your efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got the pond repair finished late October. Had to go nine feet wide and nine feet deep to find a whole in the rock bed about the size of a football - sealed with blue clay and sheepfoot compacted every three inches put back. Graded off 16" of the dam to nice and level which improved the view out from the house and the view in from the lane. It was too late to get grass seed to germinate, waiting for Spring, might put it out under a good heavy snowfall in January.

In addition to all the rocks, have been playing with synthetic fish structure using truck tires bolted together three to a pyramid around the bank in about five FOW, also an 8'-6" tree out of 2-1/2" pvc in 30 pounds of concrete with 1 inch dia polyethylene branches dropped in the middle of the deepest part.

Been waiting since then for rain. Filled
up about three feet since Thanksgiving, about three more to go will leave one foot of bank above high water. With air temps in the high sixties this past weekend the frogs were lining the bank.

For 2022, hope to get to high water, add more synthetic habitat, introduce about thirty pounds of fathead minnows and let them stabilize, bluegill and readears in the fall. LMB intro spring of 2023.

Planning a floating dock on the large end, maybe with solar powered fountain aerator.

Lot of work but I think it will be a nice feature coming into the neighborhood and property.
 

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well done, you'll love it and never regret all the work. I have fixed a bunch of pond leaks and your's is pretty typical. They are rarely big, but you really got to follow them down to fix it right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Maybe a half inch since midnight brought it up about six inches already today. The diverter I built in the road ditch is working as planned, collecting all upstream to go through the culvert. Maybe full before Spring.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
finally got the Charlie Brown synthetic Christmas tree deployed today.
Supposed to rain Sunday, need about two feet more.
Water is settling from the big rains, can see little pond bugs moving under the ice.
I can't wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Been catching every bit of rain that drains from contiguous properties. Today's 1.65 inches brought the water up about 10 so far, looks like it will run all night. About ten inches more water level to have a full pond. Frogs were plentiful on the bank this afternoon, but had to start goosing em back in as they were about frozen at 1800.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks. Was out at 0330 walking the little dog, in the cloudy moonlight looked like it had come up to the overflow. Will confirm at daylight and pull the blanking plate in the diverter basin to bypass the pond into the road ditch.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So in the morning light at 0730 it looks to be about 2 inches shy of full. I left the diverter, probably take it out after the next rain. Fathead minnows in April. Bluegills and Redears midsummer.
 
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