Ponder About Ponds
Manmade and naturally occurring ponds are prevalent in northeast Ohio due to our regular rainfall and the ability of our clay-rich soils to hold the water in place. In Medina County, known as the "pond capital" of Ohio, there are approximately 7800 ponds.
Ponds are used for a variety of purposes including wildlife habitat, recreation, flood control, irrigation and fire protection.
Pond Size Matters
Tiny backyard ponds are usually about 18 inches to two feet deep. They can be small plastic lined ponds with small aerators or small waterfalls. They also will have Koi fish or smaller goldfish which eat mosquito larvae. They also may contain specific plants and be surrounded by additional landscaping improvements.
Large backyard ponds are usually at least ¼ acre in size up to perhaps 1 acre in size and may have a portion of the pond at least 8 feet deep. If the terrain is flat then they are usually dug out.
If the ground has some slope then the dug out pond will probably have a dam constructed to hold water with an outlet pipe.
Some larger backyard ponds are state regulated under the Ohio Dam Law administered, permitted and inspected by representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Soil and Water Resources in Columbus. These special cases are due to the amount of water that is pooled in the pond, the height of the dam and the potential public exposure down stream should there be a dam failure. In Medina County alone, there are 66 such ponds. For more information on state regulated pond and dams, visit the Division of Soil and Water Resources, Dam Safety website
Some ponds are created in new subdivisions for the purpose of capturing stormwater runoff from constructions sites to fulfill either local or federal pollution prevention rules. Sometimes these types of ponds are called detention ponds which detain the water for a short period of time before they allow the captured water to be slowly released. These pond are often removed once the permanent structures are built and the landscape protected by grass turf or other permanent vegetative ground cover.
Another form of capturing the runoff water is in a retention pond. This type of pond holds the captured water for long periods of time and there is always a pool of water retained year round. These permanent are more aesthetically appealing to neighbors and can often enhance property values.
Other Important Ponds
*Fire ponds are created to provide a ready source and quantity of water for fire departments to use when regular fire hydrants are not available. These ponds have special hydrants, called dry hydrants, built into them so fireman can easily extract the water. Many times these ponds are performing other functions and fire protection is an additional public benefit.
*Irrigation ponds are used in the nursery and green house industry and many times recycle the use of that water. Golf courses also use irrigation ponds for keeping the fairways and greens nice and green.
*Agricultural ponds are often used as a water supply for livestock.
Want A Pond On Your Property?
A landowner needs to consider the size, use, ownership and slope of the watershed before building a pond because ponds receive most of their water from surface runoff, rainfall and groundwater. These factors may limit the size and type of the pond that is practical to build. Generally, a one acre pond should have a 10- to 15-acre watershed, or approximately three to five acres of drainage area for each acre-foot of water storage.
If the drainage area is too large, large and expensive spillway structures must be built to prevent the dam from washing out when large inflows of water follow heavy storms. Too much inflow may also cause sedimentation and other water quality problems. On the other hand, if the watershed is too small for a pond's capacity, then proper water levels may not be maintained during droughts.
Proper planning and construction are the keys to building a pond that will meet owner needs. Be a Conservation Crusader! Prospective pond owners should obtain technical advice from your local county soil and water conservation district for guidance concerning pond design. They offer the necessary experience to recommend the pond size, depth, location, and dam and spillway construction that are best suited to the landowner's desires and the watershed and soil characteristics.