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Hand dug ponds on a steep hill

 
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Located in western Montana, I found a seep on a my steep south facing hill. I believe if occurs at this elevation all the way across the hill, my neighbors to both sides have the same condition. There is a layer of clay on the otherwise gravel hill. I can’t really tell if the water is coming from above or below the layer of clay.

I started digging a hole to see how much water was there. Probably about a 100-150 gallon hole, clay sides so the hole is quite deep with straight sides. It’s a test. First one filled in 24 hours. Second one only had a few gallons of water after 3 days, so I dug a trench so the overflow of the first would fill the second. Third hole was yesterday and is still filling.

My tests are rapidly becoming large and I’m beginning to have a need for proper planning. I have big piles of dirt and clay that are needing more permanent homes.

The hole location is about halfway up a steep hill. I don’t want a huge body of water, obviously having water on a steep slope isn’t a great idea. If I could make a series of little ponds to bring the water down my hill to house gardens, that would be great. But other than this spot, I believe the hill is mostly gravel so that seems unlikely. I was just excited to found water in my mostly arid land and started digging.

Advice?
6460466A-28BC-4A6A-903D-DC6D8644F33A.jpeg
test holes for a potential pond on a steep hill
A7E390F6-7DA8-4033-9CCD-B536EE99CF3B.jpeg
proposed site for a pond on a steep hill
 
steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I don't have any advice, just an observation.

That looks like a lot of water.

The way the land contours in that spot that looks like you might have a stream or creek that went underground.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas
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Keep doing small “ponds” down the hill. Take the clay from the upper holes and line the gravely ones. I would feather out the edges though so not straight up and down. When it stops filling the next one down don’t  dig anymore.

Just keep them pretty small so not a lot of pressure builds.
 
pollinator
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Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 7b
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Thanks for posting this! No good advice here, but I found a seep this year too! I like the idea to use the clay to stop up the gravelly areas.

My land is pretty arid too, so I feel your excitement!
 
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I would dig that pond into an overflow basin. Then dig a channel to where you want to access the water. At some point from there a proper basin and pipe can be installed easily.
 
pollinator
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Location: Southeast Oklahoma - Zone 7B/8A, 50"+ annual precipitation
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If that seep is actually a spring breaking through to the surface at multiple places, you could have a really nice source of high quality water there.

And even if you don't want to use the water for anything else, you might be able to tap into it and use the water which is abundant right there to put little ponds wherever you want them to be.
 
author & steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I usually throw the dug earth to the downhill side to make a berm on the low side. And then run the overflow towards the dell, and provide a rock lined spillway.

 
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