Will a Well Fill Your Well-Heeled Pond? - Bob Lusk

Pond Boss subscriber Bob Durham dropped us an email asking about using a well to fill a pond. During my travels around this great country, I am privileged to be involved in a diverse range of projects. One thing about wells always strikes me during conversations with landowners.

Here’s a typical exchange. Landowner says, “If my watershed isn’t quite big enough, I may just drill a well and fill the pond.” Or, one might say, “If the pond leaks, we can just punch a well and keep it full.”

It ain’t quite that easy, folks.

Here’s where I always start. Remember this number…it’s of huge value as you think about a well. One acre, one inch deep, is 27,000 gallons. That’s twenty seven thousand gallons of water! Many wells are drilled for domestic uses, water for the house, maybe for livestock. But, do some math. If you have a well which produces 10 gallons a minute, 600 gallons an hour, 14,400 per day…hmmm…and you have a three acre pond?

People tend to think a “well” will do them well. Not necessarily so. While I never discourage someone to drill a well, I do think it wise to do a little research and think it out, forgive me, “well.” A well thought out well will be better than an expensive hole in the ground.

While volume is important, so is quality. You don’t necessarily need to go way down deep to get water of pond quality. Fish and plants like hard, mineral laden water. If a shallow aquifer has iron, lime, other minerals and metals, it’s likely pretty good for fish.  Don’t drink it, though. Hard water with lots of minerals doesn’t taste like Ozarka.

There are several well stories to tell. I have yet to see pure water come out of the ground. Contrary to popular belief, most groundwater is loaded with something it absorbed along it trek toward the middle of the Earth. As water seeps downward, into aquifers, it digests rocks, metals, gasses, and organic matter it might pass through. When it sees the light of day, everything changes. Don’t be surprised if your well water leaves a nice coat of orange on everything it touches. Iron. Or, it might bless you with the ever-effusive aroma of rotten eggs. Sulfur. Or, here’s my favorite….

Got a call from a man north of Dallas a few years ago. He had built a small pond in his yard. But, it was muddy all the time. I had him send a water sample. Analyzed it. Yep, it was muddy, for no apparent reason. Looked at the cations and anions. There were more negatives than positives. I knew that couldn’t be right. After all, I had been taught nature wouldn’t allow anything other than a balance in water. As we all scratched our heads, educated minds eased our pain.

We learned water always seeks a balance…always. This man’s water was balanced. With dirt. Tiny suspended pieces of dirt added the missing positive charges his water desperately sought. Why?

I drove down, took a look. Sure enough, he had a well, pumping crystal clear water into his pond. Then, he had a pump hooked up to irrigate his lawn, pumping water from the pond bottom. The mystery was nearer to being solved. His well water came out of the ground pretty and clear, but was so out of balance coming out of the ground, it did what it had to do to balance itself. It was literally picking dirt off the pond bottom, and physically holding it in suspension. His water was heavy on carbonates and bi-carbonates. It needed more charged particles to seek a natural balance. The water chose dirt. Once we figured it out, we were able to buffer the stuff with gypsum. He stopped irrigating with the water when turf experts explained what this water would do to his lawn. He left the pond as a scenic landscaping spot, amended the water, planted some pretty water plants, and now enjoys it as it is.

Here’s another story. One conscientious homeowner drilled a well, and decided to aerate it by running water over a waterfall. Great idea. He built a beautiful waterfall, cascading down a pretty creek through the yard, into the pond. Well water is devoid of oxygen, and by breaking it up over big rocks, letting it fall a few feet, added oxygen. Oxygen is good. After a month, the entire waterfall and its pool was coated orange. Iron. Not such a big deal, but his Labrador retrievers couldn’t wait to immerse themselves in the pool below the falls..every day. The black labs came out looking like some sort of punk rocker with funky colored hair. Not exactly what the landowner had pictured in his mind’s eye. Toss in the fact his dogs would shake, rattle and roll themselves in the least kind places. Iron was beginning to be painted all over the place. How did he solve the dilemma? He re-routed the well water straight into the pond, and set up a pump in the pond to pick up water for the waterfall. Within a week, all the iron was gone, and he was still aerating pond water. Problem solved.

Before you drill a well, do some homework. Contact reputable local drilling companies. Odds are, they have drilled a well somewhere nearby. The will have logs of the well, and can tell you quite a bit about the water, different aquifers, and quantities of water you might expect. Use the well driller as a consultant, and be confident when asking questions. You need answers.

I had a well drilled just more than a year ago. The driller I chose has been a client for years. I stocked his pond years ago. He is also the main well guy I refer people. He is knowledgeable, and willing to answer all questions. I told him I needed at least fifty gallons per minute to serve my fish vat shed, and to fill any one of six ponds on my home site. While he couldn’t honestly guarantee what I might get, he took away much of the guesswork by drilling a hole big enough, and finishing the well appropriately, with the correct size pump. As long as there was water in the aquifer, the well would do its job. So far, so good. The well produces 75-80 gallons a minute. It has iron, a little sulfur, but is buffered very well, with plenty of lime in it. It serves the purpose we need.

Here’s what you need to do. Define the purpose of your potential well. Calculate volume of water you will need. Then, define the quality of water. Do you intend to drink it? Often, there sits more than one aquifer underneath your land. Pick the one you want based on defined need. Next, talk to the driller about costs and your expectations.

My well went to 360 feet of depth, pump set at 180. Total cost? Slightly less than $10,000.

Don’t be cavalier about your thinking. After all, you may not want to toss ten grand into a hole which might produce just enough water to bathe.

POND BOSS Magazine is the world’s leading resource for fish, pond and fisheries management information including discussions on muddy water, raising trophy fish, fish feeding, building a pond, algae control and more. Check us out at www.pondboss.com or contact Bob Lusk, the Pond Boss himself, at 903-564-5372. His books, Basic Pond Management, Raising Trophy Bass and Perfect Pond, Want One, may be purchased by calling 800-687-6075 or ordering online at www.pondboss.com


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