This was a 65 acre land tract with rolling terrain and mature trees/brush. The objective was to fix an existing pond so that it would hold water and use spoils dirt from the pond site to repair significant erosion issues throughout the property. The railroad came through this part of the country (westward expansion) just after the close of the Civil War and with it farmers from primarily the southeast. Timber was cleared and the land was plowed. All went well for years until the soils played out (the soils became depleted and not suitable for raising crops). The land then became severely eroded and brush took over (cedar and mesquite).
In almost 50 years in the field this was, due to the nature of the failure, one of my most intriguing projects. The original contractor was diligent in the soil testing and did everything right when it came to installing a clay liner in the initial clay liner pond project. When we started the repair there was still a few feet of water in the pond and probing indicated 3-4 feet of silt in the bottom of the pond, unusual for a pond less than eight years old. After the water was drained and the soils dried we found that the suspected 3-4 feet of silt was actually the original clay liner, saturated through and through making it the consistency of silty mud.
After reviewing the original soil testing report I began to ask more questions. The original soil testing had been done by a reputable geo technical testing company but there was a twist. According to the land owner there was a significant time gap and level of confusion in obtaining the report from the geo technical company. After multiple attempts over several weeks the report was sent to the land owner with a no charge rate of billing. The explanation for the no charge was a credit given due to the long wait and aggravation that the land owner suffered through while trying to get the report. The soils report indicated very favorable soils for a clay liner, much more favorable that the field testing of the soils by the original contractor indicated.
According to the landowner the pond held water well for the first year or so and then appeared to begin leaking slowly. As the next year went by the pond seemed to leak more and more. By the third year the pond would only hold about six feet of water consistently. My theory is that it took a year for the water to penetrate through the three foot clay liner and from that point the volume of water leaking through the clay liner increased to a point where six feet of head pressure was all that it would hold.
The intriguing part was the soil sample reports and what I think REALLY happened- I speculate that the geo technical company lost the original samples, hence the delays. In an attempt to cover up the lost samples a substitute soil was submitted for testing or maybe the report was totally fabricated. The client was not charged for any of the work which in some respects minimized the geo technical company’s level of responsibility. The end result was three plus years of time lost and aggravation.
The project scope of work was to build a pond sized in relation to the available watershed with a design that fit naturally into the existing landscape. This sizeable challenge was increased significantly by the land owners desire to generate as much spoils dirt as possible using the extra dirt to fix significant erosion issues throughout the property. One of the major challenges/cost factors associated with this project was because it was a project failure/repair. Most of the area around three sides of the pond site was established with grass and mature landscaping. These areas had to be carefully worked through so as not to damage the established landscape.
In the end the pond was 22’ feet deep and just over an acre in size, more a less a one acre swimming pool. Acres of the surrounding landscape previously eroded, ugly and unusable was repaired by combining hugelkultur techniques with the spoils dirt. The landowner was thrilled and the pond filled quickly. Look through the pictures to get a feel for the project.
Original lake drained
Prepping all over the site
Shaping the lake
Loader adding cover dirt
Client did not want to burn brush. We filled some washed out areas with brush and covered with dirt. This is an area that will be used for a garden spot. The technique is Hugelkultur.
Hugelkultur is a centuries-old, traditional way of building a garden bed from rotten logs and brush. It is covered with dirt, mounded up.
Winter grass coming in
Adding fish structure
IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, WE CAN BUILD IT!
SoilMovers, LLC Bremond, TX 76629 254-493-6246
Big important jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones. – Theodore Roosevelt