How Pond Liners Conserve Water

January 13, 2015
Fish Pond Liner

With inclement weather and droughts throughout North America, water conservation is more important than ever. Garden ponds, watershed ponds, storage reservoirs, canals, golf courses, lakes, lagoons, and other containment systems need reliable protection from leakage in order to conserve water and protect the surrounding environment. For example, home and business owners that use ponds to enhance the beauty of the landscape need an effective way to keep water costs relatively low, while ranchers and farmers rely on ponds to store water for crops and animals and cannot afford severe leakage. No matter the reason for your pond, it is important to consider ways to save water and prevent seepage. The solution lies in the right type for your application from the variety of pond liners available.

Unlined ponds can generally be expected to leak several feet of water each year. That water waste leaches minerals like salt, calcium, magnesium and selenium compounds from the soil and deposits them back into the environment. While leakage occurs in greater volume with perched ponds constructed above groundwater level, even unperched ponds in existing wet areas are prone to leakage without proper pond lining. Not only is leachate harmful to the environment, but it also can weaken the pond’s structure, cause slope failure, and threaten adjacent septic systems and building foundations.

In addition to endangering the local environment, pond seepage can become expensive given that water drains faster than it can be replaced naturally. In some environmental conditions, especially drier climates, it can be a challenge to keep a pond continually filled, since evaporation levels and seepage levels may be greater than in more humid climates. The saturation limit of an unlined pond depends on the soil making up the basin of the pond; varying types of soil have different infiltration rates. Most pond seepage is the result of one of four common causes:

  • The soil bed contains highly permeable materials, such as a high concentration of sand or gravel
  • The soil is shallow with underlying fractured bedrock
  • High gypsum content in the soil
  • Improper construction and a lack of appropriate lining

Research from Auburn University reveals that average pond seepage rates across the United States and Panama vary greatly by region. In the best conditions, the typical rate is from .01 to .2 inches per day. It is estimated that seepage rates may be up to 25 percent higher in the summer than in the winter, as the viscosity of water decreases as the temperature increases. While a daily loss of .2 inches may seem insignificant, especially for owners of ponds in ideal conditions, it does gradually add up. For example, if an unlined one-acre pond loses .2 inches of water daily, or six inches per month, then six acre-feet of water will be wasted annually. If a pond liner can reduce this amount by just .1 inches daily, three acre-feet of water will be saved, plus less leachate will flow into the surrounding area.

A pond liner can help reduce the amount of seepage from your pond. When properly installed, Reinforced Polyethylene (RPE) liners and Reinforced Polypropylene (RPP) liners can be used to successfully prevent seepage. If the pond liner will not be exposed to high levels of sunlight, RPE liners are a great option and can last more than twenty years if buried. However, although it is less expensive, Reinforced Polyethylene cannot withstand UV rays and, as a result, is utilized less. For ponds that will be exposed to sunlight, Reinforced Polypropylene liners are the best choice. 36 mil and 45 mil RPP liners can endure conditions for more than twenty years even when exposed to UV rays, and this chemically resistant membrane can also handle other fluids.

Choosing the right liner for your pond, canal or lake can be complicated. A small residential pond that holds 200 gallons of water will obviously have different needs than a large mine tailings pond that contains a massive amount of toxic chemicals. Your liner selection will be dependent on the length of time the material will be needed for, the substance being contained, and the size of the project. We have a pond liner calculator here that you can use to determine how large of a pond liner you will need.

Western Environmental Liner can help you with your pond construction project to ensure the least amount of water loss from your pond. Some features of our pond liners include:

  • Exceptional resilience and durability
  • Extreme puncture resistance
  • Allowance for extreme temperatures
  • NSF and Potable Water Certified
  • Safe for fish and plants
  • Environmentally safe
  • Simple to install

Western Environmental Liner is one of the leading manufacturers of large pond liners in the world. Use our pond liner calculator to see how many square feet of containment liner you need, or contact us today to see which pond liner material is right for you.

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