Homepage 2019 » Forums » Water Sustainability » What can I do with a stagnant, spring-fed pond?

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    Nathan Storm

    Our house is on 1.5 acres in Central Massachusetts with 8-10 adjacent acres of neglected mostly maple, mostly flat forest.

    To the East of the house, a substantial brook (fast flowing, cold-water, sandy bottom trout habitat) cuts through the woods a few yards away and a few yards below the house. The brook is typically 10 feet wide and flows several cubic feet per second. 100 yards past the brook is a river about 20 feet wide with a larger, slower, warmer flow.

    To the west and north, a small stream a few yards away and a few feet below the house flows through muddy fen/bog. Under flood it spreads 3-10 feet wide but is well contained and quickly reverts to a 2 foot wide stream flowing at a few gallons per second.

    To the south and west, a smaller stream flows from a stagnant spring/pond to enter BOTH the stream to the west and the brook to the east.

    Each of these 3 water features composes about 1/3 of a circle to around our house, creating a 1-acre “island” (Zones 1 & 2.)

    – – – – –

    The problem area, question area is the stagnant pond that feeds the streams. During a recent flood, the stream and the brook showed substantial (3X) increase in flow and dimensions. The pond and smaller stream to the south showed little or no change. The pond seems spring fed. There is a major rock ledge both sides of the pond that is possibly forcing deep water to the surface.

    While all the other water elements were under flood, the flow from the pond to the stream remained about 4 inches wide at about the rate you would expect from a partially opened garden hose. The elevation change is about 4 inches in 4 yards, but the ground is always supersaturated and resists drainage. The elevation change from the pond to the brook is about 8 feet in 50 yards. It is a pleasant, babbling cascade about as wide as a shovel over ground that is (again) supersaturated and boggy in character. As an experiment, I took a shovel and lowered the channel about 6 inches. It is now a pleasant, babbling cascade about as wide as a shovel through ground that remains supersaturated and boggy – but now the water flow is 6 inches deeper.

    I have only been here 6 months, so do not have a full year of observation, but there is nothing obviously different about the plant-life around the pond than around the stream and other nearby soggy areas. The difference is a scummy surface and no apparent flow or movement. The woodland birds and wild ducks avoid it. I assume it is a breeding ground for mosquito, but maybe not. The water is black and the edges are boggy and mucky.

    – – –
    Finally, my questions.

    Is there likely to be any ecological value to this stagnant water?

    Would a pump and an airstone or a fountain help this become an aerobic/living water feature?

    Any other suggestions?

    Thank you,

    Nathan Storm: New to permaculture, madly in love with the land in his care.



    Could the systems related in lecture 42 help? Perhaps relieve the downward/increase the lateral distribution? It seems I have a similar pond/spring situation. A year’s observation, and tomorrow the plan is to add socks made of hay horizontal to the eroded areas. Pond is of course silty, so maybe this will provide relief.

    My goal here would be the resulting mulched-terracing Max speaks of, with a clean, healthy pond. Now, I believe it supports only frogs, etc.


    Nathan Storm

    I’ve decided to flood a 80×15 ft section of the bog/swamp and create a shallow pond.
    I will create a long earthen dam on the downstream end, and remove trees for light.

    I’ll stock the water with mosquito eating fish and then watch to see what else happens.

    If it looks like we are heading in the right direction,
    I’ll create another long earthen dam upstream of the spring to create a larger, deeper pond.

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