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Building a farm pond

Bring instant charm to your property

My uncle has three ponds on his farm. One is designated for raising hybrid bluegill and another is for nesting waterfowl habitat. But my favorite pond is the first all-purpose one he built. We have family get-togethers to fish and enjoy the peacefulness at the cabin.

Nick Morrell is with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says the first step landowners should take when planning a pond is to determine their objectives for it, such as recreation, wildlife, or irrigation.  However, all ponds do require a few key components.

"Probably the most important and critical would be the earthen structure, or the dam itself. The second part of that would be the principal spillway pipe, which is a pipe that goes through the middle of the dam and actually controls the water level of the pond," says Morrell. "The third component would be an emergency spillway to take away excess water when we get those periods of high rainfall."

Determining the site of your pond depends on topography, the watershed, and the type of soil.

"The topography is probably the most critical. It determines the size of the pond, the depth of the pond, and the overall design. Water supply is also critical as far as the amount of water that you have coming into the pond," says Morrell. "You need a watershed large enough to keep your pond level maintained. High clay soils are the best, they offer good sealing, as far as water leakage out of the pond."

It’s always wise to have local expertise to help you with any laws or permits. Hire someone who will survey the site and get the topographic information, which will be used to design the pond. Then, the site will be flagged out for an earthen contractor to build out the design.

Before you build a pond - ten important questions to answer

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