Water Ponding/Management

FranksFarm at aol.com FranksFarm at aol.com
Sat Dec 22 07:47:27 EST 2001

Good day,

John S. as always makes some interesting observations on pond locations, etc.

I've read some of the key line stuff but this city fella is still confused:)

Here's my comments.

<<Ideally ponds go on broader areas of ridges and/or saddles, or as
nearly as possible, where it's flatter and easier to build a stable
pond with good work/volume ratio.>> Hmmm....on my land there are several 
broad, and long ridges. However water seems to gather and flow in series of 
drains that wind down hills in S shaped curves. Drains seem for the most part 
at the confluence of two adjacent slopes. And sometimes drains from other 
slopes converge.

At times with heavy rainfall there can be a good volume of flowing water 
coming down these drains. Sometimes there are shelves or benches of fairly 
flat land perhaps as wide as 40' that step down the hillside to the fairly 
flat bottom of the hills.

John, are you saying it is best to build a pond on TOP of the ridge, and 
trust that the ground will hold water from rainfall?

My long ridge( 1/2 mile +) runs west to east with a fairly gentle slope to 
east. It is also for the most part 500' hundred or more in width. Like a high 
plateau. It is also well very well drained...since there is little standing 

Slopes are not that gentle...probably 8% or greater in spots near tops less 
steep at bases of hills.

<<If you mean damming up a gully/valley, this is the last/worst choice
for where to build a pond.  
Basic reasons:  
* most likely to blow out (it's right where water naturally
concentrates the most, and likely fast-moving water too... :-o)>.

Oops! Your observations make sense. My initial thinking was to find places 
where water naturally flowed; and to use those as catch basins/ponds higher 
up on hills. I thought I then could set up a series of 2 or 3 such ponds to 
cascade by gravity down the hills so I could use them to water cattle, 
irrigate land etc.

So what do you folks advise as to best locations? Don't have a scanner or I 
would send you a topo slice of my area. 

<<> Heavy clay soils down here hold water very well.>> Yes, on the surface 
and also down below when dug. On the otherhand even after heavy rains 
sometimes only the top few inches are wet. We just dug some post holes after 
a heavy rain...and was surprised to see that the soil from just a few inches 
down was so dry. OTH we have had low soil moisture, droughty conditions for a 
few months.

<<So do you have a clay layer over something more permeable, or rock,
or...?  I'm wondering if subsoil ripping to let water through a shallow
clay layer might help...but what's underneath your clay?>> For the most part 
I believe limestone based horizontal layers. Some are quite visible on deeply 
carved hills alongside good size creek. On interior hills there are small 
areas of protruding rocks near tops that appear to have more granite like 
structure. Lots of small,coarse rock visible on surface.

<<sounds like the combo of
clay surface soil and water concentration are creating rapid runoff and
 these boggy surface areas in the low spots?>> Absolutely and due to the 
gentle undulations there's a fairly large area( in total) of such boggy areas 
that will hold water on surface for days.

These areas do hold water on the land and pasture though. So while it is a 
real problem when wet...it probably has benefits as it dries. So I'm not sure 
of just what to do:) since there are lots of these boggy areas created by the 
various low spots. Even though the low spots are generally no more than a 
foot or two or 3 below surrounding land.

Filling in or grading such large areas would be quite a task, and might even 
create problems elsewhere. 

<<Slowing the water down
and spreading it out (with keyline techniques) might help, if areas it
currently runs off of can absorb and hold it in the soil (most
efficient storage location) and/or ponds.>> To some extent I have done this 
by grassing in some water ways, adding woody debris, and placing water bars 
along trails coming down the hills to divert, and break force of water that 
was eroding those trails.

But there is SO Much more to do. I have over 300+acres of wood covered hills 
that enclose the bottom land.

I've gone into detail like this since such land is fairly common around here 
and may be of interest to others with similar situations.

And also I still haven't clearly understood though I agree with the premises 
of key line design.

Look forward to the lists' comments. Hopefully by concentrating on such a 
design others may benefit as well. Let's see some PC design in action so I 
can implement it:)

Thanks again. May all of you find Peace and Joy in the coming Holiday season. 
Frank in southern Kentucky. 

I'm not sure about subsoiling.


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