By this time, we had taken several online courses, attended homesteading and permaculture workshops, enrolled in the Master Gardner program at Mohave Community College and had digested too many books to count. All things pointed toward a pond to accomplish our goals.
A main principal of permaculture is diversity, and one of the best ways to achieve this is a healthy pond.
It would also prove to be the most expensive, labor intensive project to date with one hurdle after the next in the design phase. I would estimate 50 hours of phone calls over several months to county, state and federal agencies to understand all the regulations involved.
After several design changes and the process of rezoning our property to “High Density Agriculture” we could take advantage of having the D8 bulldozer here to build the basic pond shell. This is a long-term project that will require hundreds of man hours and an additional $12,000 to $15,000 to complete. The list of things to do ahead of this is long but it still stays a priority with no estimated completion date.
After clearing the area of trees and stumps we starting marking the shape with paint for the digging of step one. When designed, and built correctly, a pond can save huge amounts of water over the life of a diverse farm like ours. Conversely, a leaky pond will waste precious water and make it impossible to develop a healthy aquatic ecosystem. You can’t short cut this process if you want to guarantee a good seal. We started by digging a 5′ wide and 5′ deep keyway in a horseshoe shape to lock in water that might seep through the clay lining.
Our native soil is heavy clay with plenty of rock that needs to be screened out. Once clean the clay was laid in the keyway in 5″ lifts and compacted to the consistency of concrete.