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Resources for Dam building info

 
Posts: 175
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I have about 500 ft of creek running through my property. I eventually want to create multiple ponds along the creek but until then I would like to dam a few spots along the way. So I am looking for some good resources on the process of doing so if anyone has some suggestions?
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The best resource I personally know of for dam building is "Water for Every Farm" by PA Yeomans.
 
gardener
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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Try this documentary about earthen dam's built in india by hand.
Dam building with no dam experience is really hard to pick up from books and youtube snippets. Everything is happening to quickly when your watching a timelapse of an excavator, nobody stops to detail any why's.
After year's of hoping a video would demystify the process for me I finaly found one, and it's got such great fundamentals that everything else can be expanded out from there.

http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/7568/Watershed-Intervention--Earthen-Dams
 
master pollinator
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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From the YouTube videos I gather that Australians and the British sometimes refer to small bodies of water as a dam. In north America the dam is only the structure holding back the water and not the resevoir
 
pollinator
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Tim Canton wrote:I have about 500 ft of creek running through my property. I eventually want to create multiple ponds along the creek but until then I would like to dam a few spots along the way. So I am looking for some good resources on the process of doing so if anyone has some suggestions?




I'm in a similar situation. I've played around a little bit with very small rock/log dams just to move the water around and see how it affects the surrounding landscape. No prior experience so I've started on a small scale. I will say that water is very unforgiving, so really spend some time thinking about the function of your design. It is easy to blow out a previously solid piece of ground if you don't factor in an overflow channel. That's as much as I've learned so far. I just keep coming back to what Sepp says, "Work with nature, not against it, that is the most important thing". Then again, "reading from the book of nature" is somewhat vague as Paul mentions in his podcasts.

I do appreciate that documentary on hand building dams, will watch soon.

Although I don't have any beavers in the area, I am curious how they build them without excavators and shovels. I would think that their behavior would be a good source of observation.
 
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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You did not say where you are located. Here in Pa the Fish Commission regulates dams on a flowing stream. You need to have permits to put in a Jack dam of any sort on a flowing stream. If it is a spring that starts on your property and you drain 100 acres or less you do not need permits here in Pa for a dam on your stream on your own property. I would suggest that you check with who ever is in charge of such things where you live so that you do not have any trouble with the powers that be. You may be able to divert water with a pipe to a dam that is not directly on the stream as long as the water re-enters the stream befor it leaves your property. I would find out the rules where you live, then see what you can do with in those rules. Or if you plan on doing what you dam well please because its YOUR land, then at least know what you need to hide and what you plan on saying when you get caught,
 
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I have been trying to slow the erosion that has occured on my stream since the beavers were trapped out years ago. I have many old beaver dams on the property and all have been breached and gone dry. I am trying several different ways of building. I started out laying logs and branches in the stream bed and moving mud onto the wood. Sort of what the beaver had done. Without constant upkeep as the beaver do, the mud was washed downstream. Next I tried laying large logs across the flow and using rocks and mud between them. This held a little better untill the water slowly seaped through and made a channel between the wood. I think if I fit the logs more carefully without gaps it would hold longer. In another spot I had a lot of rock and sand so I started piling up the rock in one spot across the creek and adding sand and mud as I went. This has worked better but has not sealed completely yet.
It is a work in progress for me to get the right model but it has been fun trying.

Here is the first log dam. http://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii370/Wyomiles/Gulch/DSCN1158.jpg

Here is a short video of how beavers do it. They seem to use lots of plants and mud with all sizes of logs and branches. They allow the water to spillover across a large area to reduce erosion and are always fixing.

http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/other/videos/fooled-by-nature-beaver-dams.htm

 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I see what you are trying to do now. Unfortunately you are not a Beaver. They live there, they hear a leak, they feel the water level changes, they constantly repair their dams. You need to make a dam that will not require constant repairs, that means a spillway that will not wash away or rot away. How much flow do you have in that stream? Can you get a pipe large enough to handle the normal flow? If so then use a pipe for the normal flow and a earthen spillway for the spring run off. If the flow is too large to be piped then make a spillway of earth and cover it with flat stone to reduce the amount of dirt being washed down stream. Start on the down stream side and lay in the rocks one on top of the other to allow the water to bubble as it falls from the breast of the dam. Backing the log dams with earth will help to keep them in place. use leaves or grass clippings, or straw to fill in the leaks. They will be washed into the places that need patched by the water flow. As they rot they form Glee that will help seal the dam as well as the pond floor. Good Luck with your project.
 
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Hire some beavers. Maybe your wildlife service would allow trapping some beavers to be introduced to your creek? They often support reintroduction of lost species, and if you the land owner are pro beaver, I think you have good chances.
 
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My wife, two poodles, and I will be transitioning from town to a 12 acre plot. The land is hilly and slopes in three directions (south, west, and north), from gradual to steep and at the highest point is about 100 ft higher than the road we use to get there. On the north side, there is a creek bed, beautifully layered limestone, which flows when there's a rain, holds water for a few days, and then it's dry. There's an excellent pocket or two where I can imagine slowing the flow and having a dam, but like I said, it's all limestone. While there are lots of old oaks and hardwoods around this creek bed (for leaf litter to fall in) I wonder about the "pond-ability" of limestone. I know it's well known for doing anything but holding water. Will leaf littler eventually help? Or, is some liner necessary for any semblance of water storage? Any help is appreciated.

 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I would definately try the leaf mulch 1st and see what happens. I personally feel that it will work to hold water. If for some reason my thought process is wrong what has it cost you? What have you lost but a little bit of time? If it works you have a good pond at No Cost, if it does not work you can always pay the money to buy a liner then. I would give the leaf mulch idea some time to work, let the glee build up a bit. If it seems to be holding in some places but leaking in others, simply apply more organic matter to the leaks. Good Luck.
 
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