This lake repair project involved a large tract of land near Colorado City, TX, in the heart of West Texas. The topography in this area is somewhat rolling, with the soils ranging from rich black top soil to Texas red dirt and rock of various types. The main goal of the project was to fix and repair two existing tanks/ponds/lakes that would not hold water. Functional and reliable water sources are essential to any rural retreat in West Texas. The water structures were located in a main draw/creek that bisected the land tract. Secondary project goals were to clear brush away from the fence lines and improve the road.
The first problem was varying soil types that were not conducive to holding water. The solution was to install a plastic lake liner. This liner is unique because it is very thick and the texture on the liner is similar to the tread on a tire. These premium features give the liner more protection from puncture. We were able to place the liner directly on the sub grade because the grade surface when rolled was rock free. We placed an 8 ounce geo-textile cover over the plastic lake liner to prevent puncture from rocks in the cover dirt.
The second problem, and greatest challenge, was how to make the bodies of water fit the existing landscape both aesthetically and mechanically. Building lake sources is an art and in almost every case, bigger is not better. Bigger lakes are subject to a variety of issues and can pose a significant draw on resources due to the amount of water that it takes to fill a big lake as opposed to a smaller one. The art of engineering beautiful and functional water sources involves creating an optical illusion that makes a smaller body of water appear much larger.
Pond #1, located near the main house, is the feature lake. There were several different elevations and sight pictures to consider along with depths and soil conditions. Excavation in rocky areas like west Texas is not for the faint of heart. Professionals, like Soil Movers, are needed in areas like this due to the expense and labor involved. We work with all our customers to consider all project considerations and in this case, achieve enough depth without breaking the bank. I call this process “balancing the dirt”. The existing creek was relatively flat with little fall and we always want to maximize what Mother Nature gives. Therefore we designed the tank long and relatively narrow up the creek as it wound around the house. Next we built a wider, main body of water to capitalize on the elevations and sight picture from the house. Pond #1 is 1.7 surface acres of water.
Pond #2 is located in a large area of the existing creek that was originally designed for approximately seven surface acres of shallow water. The challenge was how to design a one surface acre body of deep water to work out well in this large, flat, open area. Just digging deeper hole in the ground would not work because it would simply silt in as the lowest section of many acres. ‘Silting in’ of any pond/lake/tank is always a problem and especially with a lake liner project. We also found solid rock only 4 feet down and worked with the client on this serious “cost of excavation” consideration. Our experts decided that a pond with a dam all of the way around it was the solution.
The rural retreat pond received water in two different ways. The main supply is from a 5+ acre water shed up slope and through an 8” pipe that would let water in from the existing creek. We set the creek inlet pipe approximately 3 feet above grade so that any silt would settle out before the water went through the pipe and into the liner pond. Setting the inlet pipe at this elevation would also create a shallow “duck pond” of several acres above the liner pond. This design is optimal for large-scale ranches and weekend vacation homes because that water leaks on pressure and unless the soils are pure sand or rock it is fairly easy to hold 1-3 feet of water pressure. In essence, pond #2 was a double bang for the buck because the land owner got a 3+ acre duck pond as a bonus.
Brush clearing and brush control in West Texas is a source of heartache for many landowners. This is mostly due to the native mesquite tree which is one of the most invasive brush species in the world. We are always more aggressive when working with mesquite because if you do not get the whole root it will come back. By comparison, clearing cedar and prickly pear is relatively easy.
The key to longevity with roads is elevation and drainage. If these two objectives are not achieved the road soon becomes the ditch and then gets worse from there. If you’re not able to access your multi-million dollar vacation ranch or your primary bug-out location in times of crisis because of poorly constructed roads, your lives or at the very least, your weekend away from the big city will be ruined. We are experts in road construction in West Texas and work with our clients to ensure structural integrity is maintained while also abiding by aesthetic wishes.
Colorado City was a great project and a good place to be for social distancing during the pandemic. West Texas is a special kind of place that requires a special kind of people. Working in this area is a favorite for Soil Movers and we welcome any new clients in West Texas who are considering constructing a pandemic-proof rural retreat or a vacation home that will allow for whole families to maintain their quarantine bubble. The real Texas is alive and well out west.