Lake Management Starts with Lake Planning

Planning the site selection, design, and construction of a lake or pond is one of the most important steps in the lake management process. Unfortunately, many people fail to devote the necessary time, effort, and/or money to this important step, only to pay later to address preventable mistakes. Remember, it’s easier to plan and build a lake right the first time! 

Common design and construction mistakes can result in pond or dam seepage, noxious aquatic plant growth in shallow water, lack of fish habitat, water quantity issues pertaining to inadequate or surplus watershed, suspended clay or sedimentation filling from an eroded watershed, among others.

This article is simply intended to introduce prospective lake and pond builders to topics relevant to lake construction and serve as an initial guide. Lake designers must first select a suitable site and establish attainable goals for the water body. Site selection and goal setting must be accomplished concurrently since they are interrelated. That seems to be a suitable site may limit fisheries management options and vice versa.

For example, trophy largemouth bass management may not be a realistic goal if the available site can support only a one acre pond. There are several components to selecting a suitable pond site and they all contribute to the function of the final system. Here are six important things to do prior to constructing your lake or pond.

First, obtain topographical maps or aerial photographs of your property. Topographical maps and digitized aerial photographs can usually be downloaded from the internet at no charge or obtained from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices. Viewing these images can help select initial site options.

Next, estimate the area of watershed which will feed your potential pond site(s). Local soil scientists can use watershed area and average annual rainfall data to determine how much water your pond site should receive. This information will help determine the eventual size of the pond.

Lastly, learn the soil types within your potential pond sites. Soil types can be researched with soil maps or by digging test holes. Ideally, compactable soils containing at least 30% clay are needed to minimize seepage. Continue Reading Lake Planning

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