Keeping Farm Pond Water Full and Clean

April 25, 2024

How to keep a farm pond full of water? Farm ponds require attention to keep the water levels full and to keep the water quality fit for the purpose of the pond. Farm ponds, or other large ponds on private land, are used for many purposes, ranging from irrigation storage, livestock watering, aquaculture and wildlife habitat, to water management of storm runoff, erosion control and firefighting, as well as purely for aesthetic landscaping (as is the case with many homes on suitable acreage).

Where does the water come from to fill the farm pond in the first place? It can come from rainfall, from municipal supply or a drilled well, from a natural spring, or from a surface stream with suitable water rights (which are a highly regulated and difficult thing to procure – America’s history and current situation is filled with water disputes).

Apart from being used for its intended purpose, the two main ways that water leaves a farm pond are through evaporation into the air and seepage into the ground. Neither is necessarily a bad thing: evaporation will often provide a measurably cooler space for living things to congregate in hot weather, while seepage in an agricultural setting may increase the soil moisture in surrounding fields, or help with surrounding habitat development.

Typically, however, both things are undesirable – and since the water level just from usage will go down, filling the pond up to keep it full is part of its maintenance. Planting trees around the perimeter of the pond can cut the wind that hastens evaporation, and an impermeable synthetic liner, such as a geomembrane liner, on the bed of the pond can prevent seepage. And while it’s important to keep vegetation and detritus out of the pond, indigenous grasses and trees strategically placed around the pond can help prevent the erosion and crumbling of the earthen banks (which is a common factor in pond deterioration).

Filling a farm pond from a well can cost more electricity to pump water than from other sources, but often this can be affordable. A drilled well using a fairly small pump can keep a pond full of water, especially as the water table accessed by the well is different from the surface table of the pond – studying the geology and aquifer in use here is important. And analyzing the water for mineral content is also important, since this can change the chemistry of the pond water and ultimately corrode or clog any piping involved.

For surface water flowing into the pond, whether from runoff management or not, it’s important to establish silt traps at the inflow to prevent the silting up of the pond and the muddying of the water. Conversely, if the pond is for runoff containment, a secondary system of ponds may be required to handle surges and overflows of too much water, which will degrade the pond structure quickly.

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