Anyone else use watershed for a pond?

jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)October 19, 2006

I'm looking for help on using the watershed from my hill to supply water to a wildlife pond. There would be no aeration or pump. I would like to make the pond about 100' X 40' with shallow edges for the birds, frogs, etc.

There is a "dry" pond now that the original owners dug out and build a berm around the backside (it is about 30' X 70'). It does fill up nicely in the spring but the previous owners put a drain in the berm so it eventually drains. I asked the original owner if it ever held water and he said they could never get it sealed, they tried clay and tar (yuck!).

So I'm thinking I need to fill in the existing pond and start over, partly because I would like to move the location of the pond. The dirt is excellent topsoil (which I am sure came off the hill!) so I am concerned that bentonite clay may not work. My other choice is to use a large pond liner with a foot or more of dirt on top. My concern is how to get the watershed to go into the pond instead of under the liner.

Anyone have any experience with this?

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This might be a job for pros.
I never tried anything so ambitious. The closest I came is that we put a drain beneath a gutter and had that feed into a pipe that opened near the bottom of the hill into a rock lined "stream bed" that we created. If the water is going to come right off of the hill into the pond with no direction made by pipes, etc., it would seem that hill itself will have to be one side of the pond. How to square that with a liner or clay is a mystery to me.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 6:43PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Watershed from a hillside may not be good for a pond that you want to keep fish in. Fish are very sensitive to anythingin the water and the ph balance. A naturally occuring pond that keeps water in it usually has a spring to feed it and an ovferflow stream, so the water is constantly changing. I'd be afriad that you wouldn't get enough of a water change if only got fed when it rained. You'd also need an overflow stream so the entire pond doesn't overlfow all around it when it rains.

You should ask this on the Watergardening forum.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 4:59PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Thanks Sheryl and Bob for the comments. I have no intent on keeping fish in it, I already have an ornamental pond and have been active on the pond forum for many years. There are numerous farm ponds around here that are not spring fed. Actually the ODNR here gives guidelines about how much square area of a hill are needed for enough watershed to keep a pond filled, based on our annual rainfall. I don't use any chemicals in my yard and have complete control over what runoff the pond will get.

I have decided that I need to hire someone to do this though. So the project is on hold for now.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 11:29PM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

hi Jean
I have a wetlands which is a watershed. We have several well, I guess you would call them small ponds. One is 60 by 100 the other is long and very narrow prob 60 w. and goes way back into a wet meadow.
anyway. My expericence is that if the pond doesnt have a constant water source it will probably dry up. Ours were here when we bought the property and are fed by runoff. When it doesnt rain, they dry up. Does your's have a constant water source like a all year running creek?
Also you have to remember that pond need maintance. They have to be dredged every so many years or they will turn into wet meadows.
If this is a true watershed or creek, then you need to check with someone to see if You need a permit. A guy near me put in a pond and actually got fined and because he didnt have a permit. poor guy had a lot of trouble from the state.
anyway I found this link if your interested.

the pond forum is just small backyard prefab ponds.I was dissapointed, I was wishing that there would be a pond forum here myself, I have many questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: pond construction

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:55AM
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Sherwood Botsford(3a)

I have a pond, roughly 120 x 100 that is filled annually by spring runoff, then over the summer loses about 3 feet mostly to evaporation and the numerous poplar around it.

The berm is only about 4' high. The pond itself is about 14 feet deep. (I local reclamation company needed fill. I offered. 80 dump truck loads later, I had a pond)

I found that I had to aerate it. A stagnant pond gets covered with duckweed and algae. A couple years of them dying in the fall freeze, then decaying anerobically makes the pond stink of hydrogen sulphide.

So I bought a windmill aerator, set it up in the field and ran an air hose to an airstone in the bottom of the pond.

This year I have a pair of mallards nesting on it.

At times I've had cattails on it. But wandering muskrats tend to eat them as fast as they come up. Last fall I 'exploded' a cattail seed pod over the shallow end of the pond to see if I could get them started again.

I have what Alberta Environment terms and 'ephemeral stream' By their definitions, my driveway is also an ephemeral stream. But because of the definition, I had to get a water permit to build the berm.

Maintenance on the berm is important. I created a wide spillway so that the excess spring run off is about 20' wide, but only 2 inches deep. This slows it down a lot. This is covered with rocks ranging from baseball to watermellon size.

I make a point of driving the tractor over the berm on a regular basis. This packs the berm, and discourages muskrats and gophers.

Once a year I cut down the trees that start growing on the berm. (Roots can be a start of a seep.) Eventually I want to establish something with smaller roots, such as dogwood.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:20AM
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I realize this is an old thread, but some of the comments are unlearned. go to and learn all you ever wanted to know about pond building.

sounds like for the one you are talking about, the builder did not cut a keyway and did not core the dam down to a good clay. Hope this helps someone else...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 5:07AM
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