October 2016
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The Pond Project – Doing a Test Fill

Recently I started a project to build a pond between our two swales. The purpose is to increase our water storage and infiltration. Another benefit is to attract more plant and animal life to the food forest. I will explain more about the design and construction process once it is complete.

Once the initial dig was complete, I wanted to do a test fill so see how much work I needed to do to seal the pond. Also it allowed me to do some work to shape the slope so it is shallow around the edge.

In this first video, I show the pond as it begins to fill and describe some of my plans:

Here in the second video, you can see the pond is full. The connecting swale will allow the water that overflows from the upper swale to flow into the pond. When the pond is full, the excess water will exit the connecting swale’s spillway and flow downhill to the lower swale.

I estimated the volume as follows. First, I measured the flow rate by timing how long it took to fill a 5 gallon bucket. It took 36 seconds which works out to a flow rate of 8.33 gallons per minute. The entire pond took 3 hours and 5 minutes to fill completely. Multiplying the fill time of 185 minutes by 8.33 gallons per minutes gets a total volume of about 1540 gallons. Due to some water soaking in while it was filling, the volume is probably a little less. I would like the pond to hold more, so I will probably dig it out more after I drain it.

Once the pond was full, I watched the water level for a few days. What I observed was that the water level dropped several inches the first day, but then it seemed so slow down. That tells me that the portion of the pond that is below grade might not need much work to seal it. Sealing might only be required on the dam area that is above the original grade.

I will do some work to seal it and then another test fill. My goal is to complete the pond before cold weather and populate it with the goldfish that I remove from our aquaponics system when it is time to shut that down for winter. Stay tuned for more updates.

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