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Making a pond deeper

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Well it finally came to fruition. We had hoped to get this job done shortly after Thanksgiving but my budy's large scraper broke down and the repairs were taking forever. Luckily there are some heavy equipment people who rely on snow removal for winter income interested in trying to generate some income. As it turned out, using a scraper was not an option due to the frost depth.

We were also able to fill in a ravine that had washed into the hillside before we owned the property. If you look on the sidehill framed by the excavator arm, you can see the crawler working on that. That will be seeded in the spring to switchgrass and I may see if I can get the gov't okey-dokey to plant some brushy cover to extend a few rows of the corridor planting just to the east of it.

Surprised that we had as much frost to deal with as we did. In the original basin where it had been covered by some later emerging smartweed, there was approximately 16". Under the cattails and reeds it was more like 10" - 12". The initial depth of the wetland basin was 2 1/2' to 3' in the deepest spot. We added 2' of additional depth on about 1/4 acre of the 3 acre basin in an "L" shape, same as before. Given the dry conditions, this should help keep some water in it longer in addition to increasing the capacity so it has better value for wildlife. Sure, using the excavator and trucks cost more than I would've liked but time was of the essence. There are no guarantees that we'd get another whack at it as usually snow melt and spring rains refill the basin. Just glad it's done and hopefully the ducks and pheasants will be too. Thanks to my local SWCD and the USFWS for all their help. smile


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Cool Dotch. Thanks for sharing.

So this was an existing small wetland that you chose to expand, or make deeper?

We've got spots like this all over our North Dakota family land, but we've also got hundreds of existing potholes, so developing ponds would be pretty redundant.

Wish I had access to heavy equipment that big! A bucket like that one makes short work of a project of this size.

When and if I do my pond I intend to use the fill to mound up, or berm up the edges, particularly on the downhill side of the pond, to hopefully deepen the water overall. Looks like you went to a little extra work, and expense to haul away the fill?

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if you're removing washed in sediment or fill from a wetland - sure remove it. but, if you're just digging them deeper with the thought you're adding water - not so fast. you're not changing the watershed and you're likely not tapping into the water table, so by digging it deeper, you really have the same amount of water, it's just in a deeper hole now. in reality, you might be draining half the wetland into the deeper hole in the other half.

if you have 1/2 cup of water and pour it into a cereal bowl, you still have 1/2 cup of water.

deeper wetlands don't equate to better habitat all the time either. seasonally flooded basins (wet in spring, dry by fall) are crucial to a duck's nesting success.

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Yep. Understand the physics BA. In my little project, I realize I'd likely have to continue re-filling the pond artificially...that's if I could find a way to get it to hold water at all.

How would it be to line the entire pond with 12 inches of clay?

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12" of clay should be enough but I am no engineer. I'm just the idea guy. wink

Each wetland is different and this one is no exception. We're dealing with a constructed wetland that was put in back in the early 2000's as a part of CREP. It is an area that routinely flooded out in the 1990's, with only one crop being harvested in those years. What we've run into with the change in weather since it was established is an annual drying out by late July to early August. With the lack of rainfall in those months the past 2 years, keeping as much of the snowmelt and spring rain becomes key. Making the wetland larger/wider was not an option so putting a deeper hole in it made sense. Our original plan was to use the scraper and transport the spoil to fill the ravine where the dozer is in the picture. Frost was too deep and scraper was broke down anyway, hence the additional expense of the trucks and excavator. Oh well...

When we get spring rains in this part of the country, they tend to be more localized, come more rapidly and in larger amounts than in the past. The wetland fills to over capacity and water is diverted into a spillway onto the neighbor's land and into a surface drain as well that determines the peak water surface level. That intake is connected to the tile main. Why dump any more water than necessary down a tile main when it could be kept on the landscape? Plug the intake? Then you run the risk of wrecking the berm between us and the neighbor's due to high water lapping on it, not to mention muskrats burrowing into it. One thing I didn't mention, when conditions are fit, some additional water that pools in the neighbors field will be diverted into this wetland. I want the water and he doesn't. By adding 2 feet of depth, judging by the clay we may be close to where the water table has been. This low ground has been a soup hole for years, nearly impossible to drain without an expensive main that everyone in the watershed above and below would have to agree to. Not going to happen.

I was asked before I signed the land up if my intent was to put in a fishing pond and I said "no way". If I want to go fishing, I want to get as far away from the people around here as possible. That's why I go fishing in the first place. I also understand that for most waterfowl, most minnows are not desireable. Out of college, I lived 3 years in North Central ND between Rolla and Rock Lake west of the Armourdale Dam. Google map that area and you'll understand why this acreage was always intended to be waterfowl habitat. That's the way we want to keep it. Tough to do without holding water in it through the summer months though. The worst thing to come out of deepening it? It probably means a duck boat and/or another Lab perhaps in my future. smile

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