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pond construction
Pond weed



Learning Opportunities

Annually the Butler County SWCD and Hamilton County SWCD offices host a FREE pond clinic. This educational session brings in local experts to discuss pond construction, maintenance, stocking, and liability. The spring and summer dates/locations will be announced on social media and advertised at local educational events. More detailed brochures and handouts about ponds are available year-round at the Butler SWCD office. 


Pond Considerations

There are several things you will need to consider when planning to construct a pond including: 

  • A swimming pool may suit your needs better if a crystal clear swimming area is what you desire. The price may be comparable. 

  • Similar to a pool, ponds will require long term maintenance and spending on chemicals if a certain level of cleanliness is expected to be maintained. 

  • Educating neighbors and family members about water safety before pond construction can alleviate safety concerns. 

  • To build a minimum sized pond (1/4 acre) Butler SWCD recommends a minimum 1/2 acre of stock piling and turnaround area. 

  • The State of Ohio has a dam safety law governing the impounding of water. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil & Water has a book explaining the law. Additionally, it is important that you, and your contractor comply with local restrictions pertaining to pond construction. 

  • Understand the laws regarding the pond owner's liability in case of injury or death resulting from the use of the pond. Insurance is available if you find it necessary. 


Key Factors for Ponds
  • Site Selection

    • Selecting a suitable site for your pond is important. Preliminary studies of any site are needed before making a final decision on a specific site. If you are considering more than one location, study each one in order to select the most practical and economical site on which to build.

    • For ponds where surface runoff is the main source of water, an ideal site would be one where an earthen dam could be constructed between two moderately steep slopes and where the reservoir is wide and flat. Avoid sites where the pond area would have large shallow areas. Such areas pose problems resulting in plant growth and evaporation losses. 

  • Watershed Area

    • The size of a watershed, the area that drains into a pond, is very important in site selection.

    • If the watershed is too large, you may have difficulty in preventing erosion and an expensive overflow structure will be needed to bypass excess runoff. 

    • If the watershed is too small, runoff may not be adequate to fill and keep the pond full. 

    • State laws do exist making the practice of diverting or changing a natural drainage course of water illegal. 

  • Soils

    • The engineering characteristics of the soils present play a major role in the construction of a pond. Suitability depends upon the ability of the oils in the pond area to hold water.

    • Sites where the soils are fine-textured clays or silty clays that extend well below the proposed pond depth are desirable.

    • Sites where soils are course-textured sands and gravels are generally unsatisfactory.

    • Outcroppings of rock or limestone usually are poor locations due to cracks and seeps which permit water to escape. 

  • Spillway Requirements

    • For most ponds, both a principal spillway and an emergency spillway are necessary. 

    • The principal spillway generally is a type of drop inlet or hooded inlet structure used to help maintain a consistent water level in a pond. 

    • Usually located at the end of fill, the emergency spillway allows water to flow freely through this bypass and not over the top of the dam. 

  • Design

    • Pond designs usually consist of a profile of the dam, location and size of the spillways, and measurement that provide an accurate estimate of the pond capacity. It should include elevations, dimensions, earthwork estimates, and building materials required. 

  • Construction

    • The foundation of the dam is among the most important components of pond construction. 

    • When placing the principal spillway through the fill, the materials around the pipe must be hand or mechanically tamped until it has 2ft of cover. 

    • Soon after construction, vegetative cover should be established on bare areas to prevent erosion from occurring. 

    • Complete fencing of areas on which embankment ponds are built is recommended if livestock graze or are fed in adjacent fields. 

  • Determining Your Pond's Area

    • Free pond sizing tool, click here.

    • This can be used to determine how large your pond is to help with fish purchases

  • Sealing Your Pond

    • Excessive seepage of a pond is usually due to a poor pond site or improper construction techniques. Methods available for sealing leaky ponds include: Bentonite, Chemical treatments, Waterproof liners. 

  • Aeration & Algae

    • Aeration systems can help reduce algae growth and improve water quality for the aquatic biota (fish 'n such). 


Pond Troubleshooting

Throughout the year, ponds can experience many problems. The Butler SWCD staff is available to consult county residents on how to manage pond stability, water chemistry, weed/algae growth, and constructing a new pond. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and/or attend our annual pond clinic!

Water Gardens

Backyard water features can be enjoyable both for the homeowner and our natural neighbors. A key component to a healthy habitat is providing a clean water source; therefore they provide both serenity and an essential factor for living. Water gardens can be a "Do It Yourself" project or contracted. There are several creative features available for Water Gardens, so take your time researching the types of fish, plants, and waterfall aspects you'd like to include. 

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