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Selection of Site and Source of Water

Selection of Site

Watch a video about the selection of a site for pond.

A poorly planned pond will result in failure. Careful consideration should be given to the selection of a desirable site before the “ground breaking” or construction begins. A desirable site needs an adequate but not excessive water supply. The subsoil should contain sufficient clay to prevent excessive seepage. The topography (lay of the land) should lend itself to the economical construction of a pond which will contain and maintain a minimum of 1/4 surface acre of water. In addition, access roads and location of the pond in relation to the owner’s residence should be considered. A pond located near the home and with an all-weather access road is more likely to be cared for properly. Before construction begins, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Nashville or Mobile office) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management should be contacted to determine if environmental permits are needed.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System also has information about selecting a pond site.

The information above came from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division's booklet Sportfish Management in Alabama Ponds, which is available as a PDF.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assistance
1) If a land owner wants to build a pond where its primary function is for livestock/irrigation then there is a cost share program through Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  They can apply for and an NRCS agent will come on site to help with the site selection/design, etc. The agent has to do this to ensure the land owner conforms to the guidelines of the program.
2) If a land owner wants to build a recreational pond, then the NRCS agent will come out “as time and resources permit” to help with site selection/design, etc. However, the land owner must conform to federal permitting guidelines, such as the Corps of Engineers permit and the Sediment and Erosion permit for their assistance. Applications for these permits must be sent in by land owner to see if they need them, but the agent can usually tell the land owner if one will be required while on site. This same scenario holds for existing recreational ponds with structural problems.
3) Land owner can come to a field office to discuss site selection/design, etc.
4) Land owner can discuss with the NRCS agent on phone.

Source of Water

Watch a video about the source of water for your sportfish pond.

A flowing stream is not essential when evaluating water sources. Rain and run-off from the watershed are usually adequate. The amount of watershed needed may vary from a ratio of 3 to 20 acres for each acre of pond (3:1 to 20:1), dependent upon the subsoil, the amount and type of vegetation, and the slope of the land. Cultivated or barren watersheds are undesirable because of rapid run-off and the accompanying silt load. The watershed should provide enough water to fill the pond and to maintain a water level that will not fluctuate more than 6 inches below or above the spillway. An excessive amount of water results in erosion, possible loss of the dam, loss of fish, and loss of nutrients needed for fish production. Ponds built on streams usually have excessive overflows and cannot be fertilized economically, nor can the streams be effectively poisoned to eliminate wild fish, which is essential before stocking hatchery fish.

The information above came from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division's booklet Sportfish Management in Alabama Ponds, which is available as a PDF.


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