Liberty Nature Preserve


The pond, she be full...

We have been told by other pondmeisters that there is a Zen-like experience when the owner of a newly-built-pond witnesses the first water splashing through the spillway.  Donna and I can now count ourselves in this company. 

It has been 19 months since we closed the drain valve on the pond basin.  We have learned through these 19 months that the winter months provide our best gains in water retention and depth.  When the 60 acres of surrounding run-off freezes, it rejects absorbing any precipitation, whether it be rain or melting snow.  This, combined with the crazy temperature and climate swings that the midwest experiences during the winter, has yielded substantial pond depth increases.  This winter of 2008 continues the trend. 

The last time I checked the depth, we were getting very close to full at 10" short of full pool.  That was 2 weekends ago on January 26.  Then, the final straw got lashed to the camel's back this past Tuesday as a substantial storm front ripped through the midwest.  The temps were just above freezing as 3" of rain got dumped within 24 hours.  I watched the on-line weather maps like a little boy waiting for Santa on Christmas eve.  My excitement grew as the yellow and orange blobs danced across the screen.  Ironically, we also had a Florida trip planned, leaving from a Chicago airport the next morning.  That same storm cancelled over 1000 flights, including all our options.  I broke out the lemonade machine, grabbed our bag of cancelled Florida lemons, and started squeezing I-wanna-see-my-full-pond-this-weekend lemonade.  Four days later, on Saturday morning, we did just that.

As we drove to LNP, the rain carnage in the farm fields proved out the validity of those yellow and orange blobs.  As we got nearer, I started to get a little nervous as we passed a couple of orange highways signs on the highway, warning of high water on pavement.  The upside of rain for ponds is keeping them full.  The downside is that too much at one time...well, you know.

We pulled in and got out of the car at the end of the boat launch.  Whoa; lotsa water!  Whoa; maybe too much???  Did I goof on my calculations?  I use the dock/deck at the boat launch as my quick barometer for water depth.  During it's construction, we shot the elevations and set the lowest horizontal framing members to be 6" above full pool.  They were hovering about 1" - 2" above the water!


OK, don't freak out just yet.  Heck, at least it isn't underwater...right?  Unless, of course, we still haven't topped out the pond yet.  No's gotta be full...right?  It better be, cuz we're runnin' out of boat launch!

We walked across the building site to the inlet for the field tile that feeds us water from some 20-odd acres of nearby farmland.  Now remember; it's been 4 days since it rained.  The 6" PVC pipe was still shooting a steady stream of  water!

The timber in this same area was planned to be flooded to create an artificial mini-wetland. 


We walked back over to the front/center of the building site.

Next trip is the long walk along the perimeter drive along the south shoreline.  We stop briefly to look back toward the building site and get a shot of the water depth across the front of the pad.  It looks good; just right.

We turn to view the perimeter road ahead of us, noting that the new water depth blends well with the shoreline.  The actual pond water depth in this area varies with the bottom-scaping, but runs 11' at the deepest in this corner of the pond.  This entire road at the shoreline was built up with spoils from within the pond.  The original slope of the land can be seen to the left, as it rises up into the timber.


As the perimeter road takes the bend to the left (see pic above), it begins to rise in elevation.  We go there, stop, and take a look back to the dock, building site, and our little shed back in the woods...

...continue up the hill and back into the woods...

...a couple more turns, back out of the woods, and out onto the south end of the dam.

...about 100 feet out onto the dam, we look back at the roadway section (that we just traveled) to see the section that tucks back into the woods


This is the point that my heartbeat picks up a little.  It's spillway time.  What has caused our water level to be 5" higher than planned?  There's a whole bunch of contingencies running thru my mind:  Is the interior of the pipe clogged, causing it to back up 5" too deep?....Is the pipe just too high by 5"?....Has the soil settled incorrectly, changing the elevation and/or tilt of the pipe?...Is there a bunch of sticks and crap clogging the inlet?

We walk the dam and  approach the cause of my heart palpitations.

Virtually no crap has caught on our trash-guard, so that eliminates one possibility.

At this time, I feel it is important to remind the viewing audience that this is all very new to us (notice how I say "us" to involve innocent Donna?).  As much as I have studied and tried to learn all the fundamentals and finer points of creating and maintaining a pond, I sometimes forget stuff.  (I mean..."we" sometimes forget stuff).

All our pond water is supplied by run-off.  It is created by all rain and melted snow that drains into it.  No springs; nothing more.  When it fills to the top, it exits out of this pipe; our principal spillway.  All the water coming in is the in-flow and water going out is the out-flow.  When the in-flow exceeds the out-flow....well, you know.


This is a close-up of our 18" diameter principal spillway pipe as the out-flow enters it on the pond side of the dam.  Hmmmm....looks to be about 4" or 5" deep inside the pipe.  OK Einstein, does this trigger any brainstorms?   Maybe something like:  oh, I get it....the water is still coming into the pond faster than it's going out .  

OK, the inlet-side picture certainly puts my mind at ease about the elevation of the dock/deck being 4" - 5" closer to the water than planned.  It still doesn't provide conclusive evidence that the entire spillway system is functioning at 100%.  Time to inspect the other end of the pipe...

This is about the time that the Zen-like tears of joy well up in my eyes.

We walk back up the backside of the dam to take in the ice-covered February view of our newborn, healthy, 5 acre pond.


Donna and I shake hands, beaming like new pond parents should.

We continue across the dam and around toward the sand beach and the beach dock.  The pipe in this pic is a drainage culvert that feeds water from a series of small draws to the left and back in the woods.  It's elevation is set so that the bottom of the pipe is submerged 4" below the normal pool level.  This eliminates and/or minimizes splashing as water enters the pond.  The other end (the inlet end) is high enough to keep the normal pool from backing out of the pipe.  Obviously, since we are about 5" above normal pool, the water depth in this drainage pipe is about 9" deep on this end.


We walk to the end of the road, terminating at the sand beach, the beach dock, and an area behind the beach that we call the knoll (a .22 ac hillside notch that we cleared of timber with a great southerly view).  Donna stops and looks back at the dam.

...then walks out on the beach-pier decking (the 1/2 of the decking that is completed) to take in the view. (looking back across to the building site)


...we walk down to the left edge of the sand beach and survey the flooded timber behind the row of nesting boxes and tubes

...turning around, the beach looks lonely and cold. 

We travel back, taking one more glance of our frigid accomplishment from the dam

...and again from the south end of the dam, just before re-entering the short, wooded road section (view from the water level)

Finally, back where we started.  Join us and relax on the covered deck, won't you.  Don't forget your ski parka.

I continue to use our now-famous cheesy 2 Mega-pixel camera that has even cheesier (is there such a word?) 12 second video capability. 

Go here and commence squinting. 

When you're done squintin', go here...but only if you have a high speed connection.  It's a brief slide show, but it's 9.2 MB. 



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