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Preliminary [Pond Site] Investigations

Article Index

General considerations

Selecting a suitable site for your pond is important, and preliminary studies are needed before final design and construction. Analysis and selection of pond sites should be based on landscape structure and associated ecological functions and values. Relationship of the site to other ecological features within the landscape is critical to achieving planned objectives. If possible, consider more than one location and study each one to select the most ecologically appropriate, esthetic, and practical site. Weighing both onsite and offsite effects of constructing a pond is essential in site selection. Refer to figure 1 and the glossary to become familiar with the components of a pond and associated dam.

~~~~~ Featured Potential Site of a Farm Pond ~~~~~

Eugenio-Magano Farm 03, Caddu, Ilagan, Isabela. The guidelines outlined in the Ponds-Planning, Design and Construction, Agricultural Handbook Number 590 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were followed to identify potential pond sites in the Eugenio-Magano Farm 03. 

Potential main pond site in the Eugenio-Magano Farm 03
Fig. A1. Potential main pond site in the Eugenio-Magano Farm 03, Caddu, Ilagan, Isabela. The 180-degree panorama image captured a:

  1. portion of the Mandarin Orange grove (Southern side)
  2. tilled field near the center of the farm  -- second lowest area of Farm 03; only the small rice field plots (Southeast of the farm, not visible in this image) is lower.
  3. gently rollling hills (background across the barangay road; Western side)
  4. slopng unused land (Northen side; however the bulk of the Northrn side of the farm was not visible from the image)
  5. portion of the Northeast and Eastern side of the adjacent farms

From the preliminary and very brief visual site survey, rainwater onsite would flow gravitationally to the tilled field near the center.


Fig. A2.  A cropped portion of Fig. A1 image revealing detail of the tilled field. During the rainy season, the concrete drainage system (shown in the background before the road) empties into Farm 3 the excess rainwater coming from the higher elevation farms from across the road (shown in the background).

The finding outlined in Figs. A1 and A2 increase the potential volume of rainwater that would flow gravitationally to a potential sequestration pond that would be built in the area near the tilled field shown in the image. A more detailed discussion of this potential pond site is presented in a separate article.

~~~~~ end of feature brief ~~~~~~

For economy, locate the pond where the largest storage volume can be obtained with the least amount of earthfill. A good site generally is one where a dam can be built across a narrow section of a valley, the side slopes are steep, and the slope of the valley floor permits a large area to be flooded. Such sites also minimize the area of shallow water. Avoid large areas of shallow water because of excessive evaporation and the growth of noxious aquatic plants.

If farm ponds are used for watering livestock, make a pond available in or near each pasture or grazing unit. Forcing livestock to travel long distances to water is detrimental to both the livestock and the grazing area. Space watering places so that livestock does not travel more than a quarter mile to reach a pond in rough, broken country or more than a mile in smooth, nearly level areas. Well-spaced watering places encourage uniform grazing and facilitate grassland management.

If pond water must be conveyed for use elsewhere, such as for irrigation or fire protection, locate the pond as close to the major water use as practicable. Conveying water is expensive and, if distance is excessive, the intended use of the water may not be practical.

Ponds for fishing, boating, swimming, or other forms of recreation must be reached easily by automobile, especially if the general public is charged a fee to use the pond. The success of an income-producing recreation enterprise often depends on accessibility.

Avoid pollution of pond water by selecting a location where drainage from farmsteads, feedlots, corrals, sewage lines, mine dumps, and similar areas does not reach the pond. Use permanent or temporary measures, such as diversions, to redirect runoff from these sources to an appropriate outlet until the areas can be treated.

Do not overlook the possibility of failure of the dam and the resulting damage from sudden release of water. Do not locate your pond where failure of the dam could cause loss of life; injury to persons or livestock; damage to homes, industrial buildings, railroads, or highways; or interrupted use of public utilities. If the only suitable pond site presents one or more of these hazards, hire a qualified person to investigate other potential sites to reduce the possibility of failure from improper design or construction.

Be sure that no buried pipelines or cables cross a proposed pond site. They could be broken or punctured by the excavating equipment, which can result not only in damage to the utility, but also in injury to the operator of the equipment. If a site crossed by pipelines or cable must be used, you must notify the utility company before starting construction and obtain permission to excavate.

Avoid sites under powerlines. The wires may be within reach of a fishing rod held by someone fishing from the top of the dam.