Monday, July 21, 2008

The Pond Planning Stage

After living and teaching in a college nearly ten years in northern Georgia, we moved up to northern Virginia in August 2006. This change of venue was not a shock to me in any way, since I was born and raised in the central southern tier of New York State (Ithaca, more specifically).

We came into the area right at the height of the housing bubble. Thankfully we did not buy right away, but rather rented a townhouse. With the subsequent burst of the housing bubble, we were able to consider property which had previously been far beyond our reach.

We recently settled on a house with five acres in a rural county of northwestern Virginia. The property has the perfect structural location for an embankment pond. It is already naturally sloped on both sides, and has a seasonal run-off down the middle from a wet-weather spring through the watershed. There is plentiful water.

At the end of May I received the soil survey for our County, and the exact location for the pond is designated as something called "Weikert" soil. My understanding is that this is primarily a fine particle shale loam.

I have built two full-sized ponds in the past--one excavated, and the other with an embankment dam. In those instances, clay was in abundance. Here I had a number of serious questions and reservations; e.g., Is this type of "Weikert" soil unsuitable to build a pond in? Is there sufficient clay content to be compacted and retain water? One good sign was that google satellite images showed that less than a mile up the road were several nice ponds which the soil topography map likewise lists as Weikert:


Here is a bird's-eye-view of our property and the approximate location for the pond:

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