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Thread: How do you go deeper than the water table on a new pond?

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    Zac Penn's Avatar
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    How do you go deeper than the water table on a new pond?

    Two of my pond builds so far have been limited in depth by the water table. Normally you can't dig more than 4' here in Jacksonville without hitting water. After all of these storms and tropical storm Fay the I can't dig more than 2' without hitting water.

    What are the secrets to digging deep and not having your pond fill up with ground water?

    Another huge problem is this...If i dig too deep, and put a sump pump in the lowest part of the hole to suck the water out, the vertical walls start to cave in from washout.

    Any pool builders here?

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    I was a General Contractor and have built not only plenty of ponds, but swimming pools also...

    YOU DON'T go deeper then the water table!

    IF it is a concrete pool or pond, the water table can actually lift and float the shell.

    I do know that some people with water springs that rise occasionally under a pond will put in a check valve in the liner that will burp or permit water to enter the pond, but I don't think this is what you are looking for...
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    Darn...I was hoping there was an old trick to this!
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    Actually there is. We have the same problem here. When the water company wants to do construction below the water table they dig a few wells around the raea and pump the water table down. You can also dig during the dry season when the water table is lower.
    Disclaimer : I am no expert and anyone taking my advice might be as big a fool as I am.

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    out of me league. but would think a backhoe would be needed. so you could dig deep fast. kinda like a using a long reach back hoe in cleaning out a lake or mud pond and cleaning up the shore lines.

    i honestly don't see how you could hand dig without some sort of multi trash pumps that are on float switchs going while hand digging.

    you might try looking into dredging. Other words like what miners use when mining a bank on a lake or stream or river. they use a very high pressure stream of water i do believe to break up the dirt. and at same time suck the water and dirt out. other words they have one spray gun and then i do believe another spray gun that is hooked into "what they will most likely refer to as a jet. ((kinda operates like a garden hose siphon broom from cleaning out ponds, might also think of ventri like doing but all water instead of air.))

    problem with above i am assuming you have no place to send the excess water with dirt in it. and would need some sort of detention area that will trap the dirt and allow the water to flow out. so all you are left with is dirt. you can rent a large tank that can be dropped off via semi truck or perhaps flat bed truck that can do the water and dirt separation. and when you have your hole for pond to size wanted. just call up given company to just haul the tank now full of dirt away.

    its been awhile (year or a little longer) since i researched into dredging myself for cleaning up a mud pond here on the farm. i got to many projects on the todo list that have higher priorty. but can't wait till i get time to build a raft out of some 55 gallon drums. drop a garden tiller head on a boom out into the water and then use a suction pipe to pickup the mucky water and send it off to were i want. though i might opt for some high pressure jets vs tiller head. to break up the muck bottom of the mud pond.
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    When we build a pond and hit the water table we install a well point sometimes more then one to keep the water out. The only time we have ever had a problem with the sides caving in is when you turn the pump off and allow the water to fill back up, you must keep the pump on at all times to keep the water out - and work fast.

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    The use of well points will dry the area to be excavated, but you do not want to go much below ground water level. If the pond has to be pumped down to below the ground water level, the water will lift the bottom of a liner pond, with a layer of water, and then when filled back up, the water will leave, but the bottom of the liner will not be where it should be. If the pond is a concrete pond, it will become a concrete boat, and if it has enough difference in the elevation of the ground water and pond water, the pond will pop out of the ground, breaking the plumbing and allowing sand to unevenly flow under the pond, so it will not set back correctly.
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    What size well points? 4" or 2" I never would have thought about that. You probably would need one hell of a strong pump to suck the water out of the ground right?

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    Ryan,

    That sounds like a hell of a lot of fun!

    Good luck with that,
    Zac
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    Though it would defeat the purpose of a crystal clear koi pond, hydrostatic valves (or check valves on a more basic level) -- as Bill mentioned will allow areas w/high water to work w/ponds. Drawback is that they will allow that ground water to seep in along w/any debris picked up in the process.

    I've seen liner ponds displace rock & boulders, acting like a giant water bed due to the water table.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZP Construction LLC View Post
    What size well points? 4" or 2" I never would have thought about that. You probably would need one hell of a strong pump to suck the water out of the ground right?

    Zac
    I have never had to do this with a pond, but assume its alot like installing a sump pump. Basically you dig down and create a pit where the ground water can seep and flow into. Install a pump with a float switch, and you can keep the surrounding aread reasonably dry.

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    Problem isn't digging during the dry spell or pumping down around the area with wells. The problem is when the water table comes back up it WILL lift you liner, cement of preform.


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    The rule of thumb is to pump out whe water faster than it comes in.

    if the water table is that high no liner would be needed. mud pond.

    ck out stephens new pond also.
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    retention ponds, chemical ponds, waste ponds, etc... do have like a check valve flapper that installs into the bottom of the pond. i know there has been a few folks here on the forum that have installed these check valves.

    a suggestion might be, is to do a french drain around pond. and send to a trash pump. so if problems do arise were pond water level is lower than ground water level. the check valve inside the pond located at the bottom will kick in. and if need be, abilty to pump ground water away from the pond.

    i would suggest pond top be raised above ground level. and in that making sure pond water level stays above ground level. to help deal with ground water from intruding into the pond. granted just raising pond water level above ground won't stop hydrostatic pressure of ground water building up. and allowing ground water intrusion into the pond. but it may prevent less ground water intrusion into the pond. and with a french drain like setup. even with not being ran to a sump pump. but just a pipe going up into air. off of the french drain setup. would help release hydrostatic pressure up through this pipe vs building up under neath the pond.

    if i take it correctly from others. if you dug a couple holes say 5 gallon bucket in size, and little deeper than pond. and just dropped submersable trash pumps in them. then wyed the pumps out puts together and sent all the water some place else. you might be able to drain the water level down.

    might be worth while getting a 2 man auger with an extension or 2 for depth. and drilling a couple holes near each other. then taking the old hand digger shovel and forming a larger hole for a trash pump. to be placed in.

    ===================
    going off previous post of mine.

    couple links to get an idea ((no need for the floats and such but pump and some way to break up the dirt to get it to flow.
    http://www.techdivetools.com/dig/dredges.html

    http://www.greatlakesprospector.com/dredge2.html
    http://www.piranhapump.com/mini_dredges.html

    in extreme basics think of taking a tiller into the hole with water and tilling up the dirt. then taking a trash pump and pumping water out to a large tank out by the road. were the tank is lined with a liner. and has some baffles either like a septic tank. or is made like a settling chamber. and then outlet water is routed back to your hole. IE moving large amount of water and dirt to the tank. leaving majorty of dirt at tank. and sending excess water back to hole so you can keep your water level going and don't have to bring water in to do the dredging.

    i don't recommend a tiller of course just trying to give idea of breaking up the dirt enough that it could get through the trash pump and into the plumbing and then into the tank.

    might be worth while searching for "dredge, cutter heads, mining, etc.."
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    dead man's pump
    SWimming pool builders use them to put in pools deeper than the water table.
    they are called "dead man" Pumps because in the mining industry if they fail then the Miners in the caves are....
    and all the pools built in florida re built deeper than the water table..so all you all need to tell them they should pop out of the ground..but they won't listen to you all.
    a pool WILL come up out of the ground if the water level is significantly HIGHER than the level of water IN the pool/pond(ie. the ground water is at an elevation a foot or two greater than the elevation of the water in the pond...
    An easy way to keep groundwater from messing with a liner pond is to have a slightly raised liner pond and keep the water in it above the ground level.
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    All of the ponds that I have built were dug down to the water table (roughly 4') After all of these storms, the water table moved up to about 1' below ground level, and none of them had a problem with liner pushing up.

    As long as you are not building a pond in a swamp there will be no problem with the ground water getting above the pond water level!

    Can you go into a little more detail about these dead man pumps?

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    First I would go to the city to see there reccomdations for your area. They will let you now what needs to be done for any problems. Hydro static valves are used when you drain your pond or pool for gunite or concrete applications.
    We do not like using them because they can leak some times. This is what my gunite company tells us. We will install one that is manual so when draining we can allow the pressure to releave its selve. In California we only worry about POOLS popping out of the ground when they are not full. Yes they can pop out of the ground. I have seen pictures of a foot above ground, not a pretty site. Good luck with your project.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
    The use of well points will dry the area to be excavated, but you do not want to go much below ground water level. If the pond has to be pumped down to below the ground water level, the water will lift the bottom of a liner pond, with a layer of water, and then when filled back up, the water will leave, but the bottom of the liner will not be where it should be. If the pond is a concrete pond, it will become a concrete boat, and if it has enough difference in the elevation of the ground water and pond water, the pond will pop out of the ground, breaking the plumbing and allowing sand to unevenly flow under the pond, so it will not set back correctly.

    This is True, however the way we get around this is we leave small openings in the bottom of the shell to allow the ground water to seep into the shell. Once the pond is finished and ready for marcite we fill in the holes with hydraulic cement and plaster - we also fill the same day. We have built more concrete ponds then I can count at the moment and never have we had a concrete shell pop out of the ground. For maintenance where the concrete shell is going to be empty for longer then a few hrs we make new holes in the bottom of the pond to again allow the ground water to seep back in.

    I have attached a photo, you can see that there is water in the shell. under the plywood is a hole to allow the ground water to seep up into the shell.
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    Last edited by Fast327; 10-22-2008 at 01:16 PM. Reason: adding picture

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    Very cool!

    The last pond that I did used the bottom drains as a pump basin and made sure that they were the lowest part in the pond. When the water get over the top of the drain i would plug in the trash pump and pump the water out to the street.

    One of these days I hope to move to higher ground! When I build my house I am going to bring in at least 4' of fill dirt and grade out the property. This way i am sure get a pond at least 6' deep without hitting water.

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    Zac, there are very few areas around here that are high enough to dig 6 feet without hitting water. When building in a low area, it's possible to pump out while digging and install a liner. You just can't ever empty the pond with the water table up.

    Of more concern is one of our thunderstorms or huricanes dropping a ton of water that builds up on ground level around the pond. If this potential problem isn't addressed with a concrete collar or french drain then the water will get under the liner and collapse the pond. I've seen it happen. Not me but a friend with a "pro" builder.
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