Lake Renovation and Upgrade Near Ranger TX,

Spring 2018

This land tract is approximately 165 acres located near Ranger, West Texas.  Terrain is a typical North Texas rolling landscape with a primary cover of oak trees in varying sizes supported by an average yearly rainfall of 29 inches.  The soils are sandy loam on top with layers of clay and some rock.  The project goal was to renovate an existing 2 surface acre pond/lake/tank into a more aesthetic area with proper depths for fishing and recreation. 

The existing body of water was in a creek bed with a 10-14’ high narrow dam.  The client wished to incorporate a much older and smaller stock tank into the existing lake as a lake upgrade to increase the size of the lake renovation project.  The pond/tank/lake appeared to hold water well but the existing water depths were unknown.  The first step was to cut a wide trench through the dam and drain the existing water.  Upon doing this it was discovered that the average depths of the existing pond were only 3-5 feet. 

Lake renovation projects can be the most challenging due to wet muddy soils and the specialized equipment required along with the associated cost increase.  Many projects fail at this point because the contractor is not properly equipped to do the job,does not have enough money budgeted or simply exceeds his level of experience.  Renovation projects also fail when due diligence is not given to the soil types.  People tend to lean towards “wishful thinking” and think that if the pond/tank/lake held water before the renovation then it will hold water after the earthmoving is completed.  This is NOT the case and a number of renovated ponds/lakes/tanks never hold water well again after a lake renovation.

During the initial conversation that I have with most of my clients they all say the same thing, “We do not want a round, oval or ‘tear drop’ body of water!”  As a general rule 50% of the pond/lake /tank projects fail mechanically (hold water, drainage) because Mother Nature only makes it easy about half of the time.  OVER 90% of projects fail aesthetically due mostly to the inability of the contractor to see the big picture. 

At the Ranger project the scope of work quickly became greater due to the shallow existing depths and what to do with the large amount of spoils dirt generated by excavating for proper depths.  Proper placement of the spoils dirt so that it would enhance the overall aesthetics of the site became a primary challenge.   With clever design spoils dirt can be used to create a very dynamic aesthetic effect on the project by creating topography around the lake site. 

The drawback to using a vast amount of spoils dirt around the project is that one MUST have enough top soil to cover all of the spoils dirt areas.  Without proper top soil a grass cover is difficult to establish and erosion along with water clarity problems arise.  Top soil is considered a non-renewable resource due to the length of time that it takes Mother Nature to make it so remember, there is no substitute for top soil properly managed.  Luckily at the Ranger project we discovered 3-6 feet of top soil in the old lake bed where the creek plain existed originally.  These soils were carefully stock piled and then placed over all of the areas where grass was to be established.

This project had a high probability of failure if a local dirt contractor would have been tasked with the job.   In the end, the entire project added serious challenges that were certainly not evident during the initial project planning.  A local contractor would have been quickly overwhelmed.

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