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For Rural and City Living
Seal a Leaking Pond

Severe water losses in a farm pond are due for the most part in leaking. Before constructing a pond, a soil analysis should be taken to determine the amount of clay in that soil. The higher the clay content, the better the pond will retain its seal. Additives can be placed into the pond to help with a leaking problem. Certain aquatic animals and vegetation may also have to be controlled to aid in eliminating leaking conditions.

Bentonite Clay
Ponds that have lost its seal or are constructed in sandy soils can benefit greatly by the addition of Bentonite clay. When this powder substance comes into contact with water, the Bentonite clay will swell to 20 times its original size. Typical applications include mixing the clay into the soil at a rate of  50 pounds per 100 square feet of pond area. The soil is then moistened and heavy rollers are passed over the ponds bottom to compact the soil. The pond will have to be emptied of any water and allowed to dry somewhat prior to this clay application. There are other chemicals that can be added to the water itself in the form of chemical salts. An analysis of the soil must be taken first before this type of treatment can be performed.

Ponds of a modest size can be lined with either plastic or rubber liners. The material is laid on the bottom surface of the pond and is covered by a layer of sand. The sand should extend to a depth of at least 6 inches to protect the liner from any debris that can poke a hole in the seal. Depending on the thickness of the liner, sealing a larger pond may be cost prohibitive.

Trees and Animals
Trees growing on the ponds dam embankment can create large pathways for the water to travel out of the earthen structure. The trees roots will grow towards the water source and eventually break through the soil surface. The roots can then create a pathway for the water to leak out of the pond. Removing all tree growth from the earthen dam of the pond will help to prevent a leaking pond. Crawfish, muskrats and beavers all burrow into the banks of a body of water. Controlling these animals prevents the water from leaking through the embankments of the ponds. Even though crawfish are small, hundreds of them can burrow deep into the sides of a pond. Overtime, the multitude of tunnels will weaken pond dams and allow water to seek its way out. A pair of beavers or muskrats can quickly burrow into an embankment and create a large water hole of drainage. Contact your local agricultural extension service for remedies to these larger pests in the pond.

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Kat and Kevin Yares

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