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Building ponds with bentonite
Anyone have any experience with this? Seems like a cheap way to build a pond.
From what I read, you need to dig the hole deeper than you want the pond. Then put down the bentonite and cover with soil. Last it needs to be compacted.
To me this sounds like a better idea than a plastic or galvanized steel cattle water container. Is ice going to crack these and have them leaking after the first year?
We used to line ditches and ponds in the mining industry. It is clay...so plastic in nature, and swells when it is wet. Don't know what would happen if the pond went dry and the clay (bentonite) dried up? Might PM Treeline if he doesn't weigh in, as he probably has more direct experience than I do. Mine is all favorable. Good luck with it.
I have a neighbor who has successfully used it on a small scale to keep his pond from leaking where there are some rocks exposed above the clay. It's holding so far.....
I have another neighbor who did exactly what you describe....I'll bet it cost him a fortune.....and his lake still leaks. He finally hooked his well up to it and pumps water in to make up for the leakage.
Bentonite will swell 20 times it's size when hydrated, is very fine in grain size by nature and will pack as hard as concrete.
Also used in drilling mud and petroleum (oil and gas) well cementing applications.
I have used it to fix a leaking pond. It works.
HDE is correct. (Used during the drilling process as well) I mixed a bazillion bags of it when I worked as a derrick hand in the oilfield back in the 80s. I could have lined a 10 acre pond with just the bentonite that I blew out of my nose back then!
How big of a pond are you talking about?
I tried it and didn't have much luck. Our soil is very sandy though. Maybe I didn't use enough? I had bought quite a bit though. Honestly though for great results and quick and easy--buy a 150-250 gallon plastic tub. Got mine from Menards. I take a 50 gallon drum with water to fill them. I have 2 155 gallon tubs and deer love it. By far where most all the action is on our property. The plastic is very durable and havent had a leak yet.
I think that's the stuff the Missouri Breaks gumbo is made of....... pretty amazing stuff, never seen any "mud" quite like it.....
Pond liner would be more guaranteed and likely less labor intensive.
I work in the bentonite industry everyday in northern Wyoming. Some companies make what they call benomat that comes in rolls instead of the raw form and it is used for exactly what you are asking about. It is also used in an environmental application in landfills to protect the ground water.
The bentonite mat that is mentioned above is commonly known as a GCL. Geosynthetic Clay Liner. There are a few different manufacturers. GSE, Cetco and Bentofix to name a few. Rolls are around 2,250 SF and 15' x 150' approx depending on the specific type. And the rolls are heavy. Basically, its bentonite clay sandwiched between 2layers of geotextile that are needle punched together.
Overlap is 9-12 inches and you pour 1/4lb of granular bentonite clay per foot in the overlap. Anyone can install this stuff, but you need the equipment to move the rolls around. And you still have to cover it with atleast 12" of soil and then compacted it.
I work for a geosynthetic liner installer. If you got questions, ill do my best to answer them.
Stryker, I work in the onsite sewage system design and permitting field, I'd love to know more about the Benomat product
Good info provided above, really need to know the size of the pond that you are looking to construct. I would think an impermeable liner would be the way to go over straight bentonite, but not sure how practical or cost effective that would be for you. I work in the environmental field and we oversee 2 landfills that are capped with GCL, but the capping occurred in the 1980's. We also use bentonite during monitoring well installation to seal above the well screen to prevent infiltration of water from the surface. The info above is correct, it expands significantly when hydrated. Good luck and let us know how it turns out whatever direction you take.
Membrane liner is more modern but if its intended for a watering hole you might have to worry about hooves puncturing it unless you had a really thick sand layer covering it. The nice thing about bentonite is its self sealing.
Dang, you have some great sources above! Talk to them about your project for sure.
We used bentonite for a number of applications in mining. Drilling, grout curtains, and for lining ponds and ditches.
It can work very well with the right application. I have had mixed results in areas with flowing water (ditches) as it can be washed out over time. GCL works better for lining ditches but we did have issues working around it with equipment and tearing it as well as UV breakdown of the fabric over time. We used it in some high altitudes that had extreme UV and also extremely cold temperatures.
As GnG said, those rolls are HEAVY! You will need equipment to move and place it.
If you go with the pellets or powder, you will be surprised how much you will need to get in order to seal the pond well. It also works better to mix it with the local material and then compact in several lifts. You can lose the clay if you have water flowing either across or down through it into the ground. It can also desiccate and be blown away if it is dry for an extended period. A pond lined with bentonite will have a really gooey bottom if there is enough in there to hold water.
Fuzzy I work in the mining end of bentonite and one of the company’s we work for like GNG stated is Cetco that makes the benomat from the raw materials we provide. They would be a great resource to answer all of your questions. People would amazed at every day products you use that have bentonite in them. Good luck and hope this helps.
I'll check them out!
We are currently using betonite as grout for water supply wells, as a water stop in trenches in which a gravity conveyance line must cross a wet area to get to a drain field (to prevent groundwater from "following" the trench and infiltrating the drain field area) To do and exterior seal at the center seam of precast concrete septic tanks in shallow water table sets. (I prefer a top seam tank but they can't always be sourced in the sizes needed) and in situations where an existing in-use septic field must be "chopped" for some reason (example, a road project or a re-survey moves a property line into the drain field and an easement can't be obtained). Good stuff.
"People would amazed at every day products you use that have bentonite in them." Like 3 Musketeers candy bars to make them fluffy!
CETCO product is Bentomat. I work for their parent company although I don't know any more about the product then was already stated here. This product contains sodium bentonite. There is also calcium bentonite. There are a few mines in eastern Wyoming and South Dakota. Not sure if you are close and/or if you can drive up and buy it that way. The most common product that contains bentonite would be cat litter. It is used for clumping.
Yes..... Bentomat. ST, DN, 200R and a few other variations. They even have a GCL that has a thin geomembrane liner on one side.
Installing a geomembrane liner has its own set of requirements. Any field seams usually involve heat welding or chemical fusion welding, unless you are installing EPDM which requires a double sided tape and then a single sided tape sealing the overlapped edge. My company isnt a big fan of EPDM, but for your self-installation it might be another option to look at.
There are pros and cons with everything. It's easier but not cheaper than liners. My go to guy in the industry is Zach Haas with creekbottom land management out of eden wisconsin
Can anyone give me instructions on doing this? I'm thinking about a 200 gallon pond, out in the woods, on a hillside. May have some drainage to it, but would probably need to supply water.
Size wise, I'm thinking 6X12 but slope would probably dictate the 200 gallon size. By slope I mean from the edge of the pond to the center.
Bow mania, you would probably have better luck for a small catchment like that to use a poly-tank or HDPE liner. You could build a catchment that could be protected from losses to evaporation and then pipe down to a little trough with a float valve. Might be worth looking up guzzler designs on line.
There is a lot of good info out there for building guzzlers for wildlife.
Im sure if you searched online, youd find what your looking for. Based on the size above, you could get a one piece liner. Buy one online or find a contractor that does water/pond landscapes and i bet theyll have something leftover from a job that might work for you.
I'm against liners. I feel deer will walk through them and hooves are pretty sharp. All of a sudden you have an empty pond.
Yes...... Those hooves will puncture a liner. However, you would have to cover a GCL liner as it is, so over excavate, install the liner and then backfill. Say 24" over the liner. You gotta dig out 12" as it is, so whats another 12?
From what it sounds like you are doing, it really sounds like a guzzler will be much easier and much more reliable. There are a couple of companies that build them and can ship a working unit to your door. If you can get a poly tank and do a little plumbing and mix a little concrete you can put one together that will work for your great grandkids to hunt...
Still searching around for something I'm comfortable with.
Found a "Utility Mat". It's used for a pad to have horses walk up into a horse trailer. No deer hoof will puncture it. It comes in 60 by 120. That could make a pond 3 feet wide and 10 feet long with foot deep on all edges. Don't think there'd be a problem with wrinkles and it's tough enough to solve the ice problem. Might have to stake the edges.
I used bentonite for a small waterhole we dug on my farm. I bought about 30 bags at the local farm supply. We made it about 30 feet in diameter and then scratched the surface up pretty good after we had it built. Then we spread the bentonite over the whole area and packed it in with a backhoe. I had very sandy soil so I had little hope of it holding water but with the bentonite it filled up on the first rain and it hasn't dropped more than 6 inches in 2 years! Worked amazing for me and it's pretty easy to use. Might work better to have the bentonite covered a little more than what we did tho.
Lots of good info guys. I have a dry waterhole that is about 50'x80' and 15' deep that I have been trying to decide what to do with. Bowmania be careful of the "utility mat". it may have chemicals in it that would be released into the water.
Just read a interesting article on water holes on GRO. If I read right the article by John the Nutritionist waters hole should be 10 ft times 10 ft and 3.5 ft deep. Anything smaller just breeds disease. Thoughts?
MK111 I was interested in the article so I went on the GRO website to read. He does not give any information on what the reasoning behind the dimensions but vague statements. Like to hear more about the reasoning. I pasted the paragraph below.
Another reason why we want at least 10 foot by 10 foot by 3.5 foot deep water holes is to establish quality water. If we do not have enough available water sources close to bedding and food sources, we are exponentially increasing our risk factor for health issues. We are also reducing growth and overall health. We see it all the time on properties where deer are drinking out of small little water holes. These are breeding areas for disease and insect issues. Why buy products to try to reduce EHD versus getting right to the root of the problem