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Building a Pond with No Running Water

 
Posts: 16
Location: Green Bay, Virginia
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Hi everyone,

I will be moving onto 20 acres here in the near future and the property has no spring, creek, river, or pond. There is however a well and there will be more wells in the future.

My question is where is the ideal place to put the pond. I'm thinking towards the bottom of the map (downhill) to catch all the runoff from the fields.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks,
Reid
Pond-Location.jpg
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pollinator
Posts: 11804
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Is there any kind of depression or gully on the land, that does not carry flood-size runoff currently? Because that would be the most logical place to put a pond; in a gully the dam can store much more water than a pond dug on the flat. But it takes more engineering ($$).

Personally I would lay out a series of swales starting at the top of the property, and have them all eventually overflow into the future pond area. On 20 acres you could have several small ponds uphill, plus a bigger one in the lowest spot. With some ponds uphill, you may not need additional wells in order to get sufficient water for irrigation. I think $$ spent on ponds is much more valuable than that spent on wells.

If you sign up for Geoff Lawton's free videos, you can see on the "Property Purchase" video how he points out logical locations for ponds. Some of the other videos also discuss pond locations, but I can't remember which ones. http://geofflawton.com/

I have serious pond envy!
 
steward
Posts: 5656
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My strategy is to store as much water as possible as high up on the property as possible. Because if it's stored at the lowest point, then it has to be moved uphill before use. If stored as high as possible, then gravity can be used to move it. Also water stored higher up will seep downhill and benefit your place instead of the neighbors at lower elevation.

 
gardener
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Location: south central VA 7B
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Hey Reid and welcome to Southside VA, which is where I am also! We have some great advantages here: over 50" of annual rainfall and clay soil which makes pond building easy. I'll assume this property is fairly new to you, so spend time walking it, lots of time. You may surprise yourself and find a spring that flows only after a heavy rain - we've come across almost a dozen. I've found that with our wonderful rolling hills, the land will direct you to the places that want to hold water - walk about after a good rainfall.
I second Tyler's suggesting about watching videos and podcasts; there is a good reason for explore a series of ponds. Keep in mind, that this being a agriculture area, the Corp of Engineers/Extension Agencies are busy keeping an eye on ponds built without permits. It's a total pain in the ass, but they can fine & require a pond to be filled in, if not permitted. Let me know if I can help you maneuver this - unfortunately, I've had to deal with it.
 
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I would recommend adding Darren Doherty to the list of people to look up on youtube. Darren does a great job of explaining the concepts of the keyline system, which system explains how to identify the right places to place a pond on a property.

Also Mark Shepard, who has some interesting approaches to creating vernal pools that work to hold water on your property but do not result in standing ponds that you need permits and engineers and all to build legally. Mark also has loads of information about how to plan water management on a property.

Geoff, Darren and Mark, along with pretty much all the rest of the really good permaculture design people out there, start the design process with water management, before anything else. It is that important to good permaculture design.
 
Mackenzie Smith
Posts: 16
Location: Green Bay, Virginia
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Is there any kind of depression or gully on the land, that does not carry flood-size runoff currently? Because that would be the most logical place to put a pond; in a gully the dam can store much more water than a pond dug on the flat. But it takes more engineering ($$).



Thanks for the response! Yes, there are gullies. We had a lot of rain this past week and I was able to observe where the water goes and where it puddles.
 
Mackenzie Smith
Posts: 16
Location: Green Bay, Virginia
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:My strategy is to store as much water as possible as high up on the property as possible. Because if it's stored at the lowest point, then it has to be moved uphill before use. If stored as high as possible, then gravity can be used to move it. Also water stored higher up will seep downhill and benefit your place instead of the neighbors at lower elevation.



Thank you! I'm gonna try really hard to store it up higher. It's gonna be a small community of 2-3 families and all the houses and the driveway are on the high side of the farm... so I'll maybe be able to store water about half way down the slope.
 
Mackenzie Smith
Posts: 16
Location: Green Bay, Virginia
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Marianne Cicala wrote:Hey Reid and welcome to Southside VA, which is where I am also! We have some great advantages here: over 50" of annual rainfall and clay soil which makes pond building easy. I'll assume this property is fairly new to you, so spend time walking it, lots of time. You may surprise yourself and find a spring that flows only after a heavy rain - we've come across almost a dozen. I've found that with our wonderful rolling hills, the land will direct you to the places that want to hold water - walk about after a good rainfall.
I second Tyler's suggesting about watching videos and podcasts; there is a good reason for explore a series of ponds. Keep in mind, that this being a agriculture area, the Corp of Engineers/Extension Agencies are busy keeping an eye on ponds built without permits. It's a total pain in the ass, but they can fine & require a pond to be filled in, if not permitted. Let me know if I can help you maneuver this - unfortunately, I've had to deal with it.



Thanks for the response! I was able to observe some heavy rainfall this past week. I visited your website and then realized that I pass Twigs & Berries on the drive out to the property in Green Bay. I was pretty excited to see that there are other permaculture people in my area. I'll probably need help with the Corp of Engineers.
 
Mackenzie Smith
Posts: 16
Location: Green Bay, Virginia
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Peter Ellis wrote:I would recommend adding Darren Doherty to the list of people to look up on youtube. Darren does a great job of explaining the concepts of the keyline system, which system explains how to identify the right places to place a pond on a property.

Also Mark Shepard, who has some interesting approaches to creating vernal pools that work to hold water on your property but do not result in standing ponds that you need permits and engineers and all to build legally. Mark also has loads of information about how to plan water management on a property.

Geoff, Darren and Mark, along with pretty much all the rest of the really good permaculture design people out there, start the design process with water management, before anything else. It is that important to good permaculture design.



Thanks for the information!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5656
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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We had a lot of rain this past week and I was able to observe where the water goes and where it puddles.



Ah ha! So there is running water!!! (at least occasionally). Excellent observation.
 
pollinator
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i worked with some tribal people in india.  there was a water shed project going on with their land.  there was money for the gavions, making streams more serpentine to spread out the water, ponds, swales, etc..  there was no money for individual farmers to build bore wells to bring the water up for them to use or other methods to pump the water to their farms.  it turns out though in India for thousands of years they have used what i now call bore well trees in their hedgerows.   these are  fast growing trees with deep tap roots that take the water down when there is extra water and then bring it back up for the trees to use and share via mycorhizzals with its neighbors when they need water.
 
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