Want to build a pond?


URBANA, Ill. — If you are a landowner who has always been wanting a pond, there are a number of pre-construction steps that should be done to first determine if your property will even be suitable for a pond.

First step

Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Natural Resources educator, suggested the first step would be to contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District Office for a soils map, topography map and plat map.

With this information in hand, you can begin to conduct a thorough site assessment to examine the soils, land cover, drainage, watershed area and utilities for the intended property.

You can also determine the projected pond size, depth, dam location and height of the waterline.

Frazee recommended landowners consider taking core samples of the intended pond area using a “backhoe check.” This is also a good time to check on any local, county or state regulations or permits which may be impacting the site.


It is important to be realistic about cost for constructing a pond, as a typical one-half- to one-acre pond may cost $10,000 to $20,000.

Some landowners may find it beneficial to hire a private consultant or engineer to assist with some of these pre-construction determinations.

Fundamental question

According to Frazee, the fundamental question which should be provided by this pre-construction assessment is “Does this site meet necessary requirements that will provide for a successful, long-term pond?”

The next step in making a pond a reality on your property is selecting a qualified contractor to construct your pond.

Frazee recommended landowners again contact their county SWCD office to obtain a list of land improvement contractors who have knowledge and experience in pond design and construction, permits and regulations.

They should have the necessary construction equipment and of proper size to complete the project in a timely fashion.

A contractor should be willing to provide referrals, but Frazee suggested it is also advisable to visit with neighbors and other landowners as to the quality of work they have done.

Detailed installation plan

The contractor should develop and provide a detailed installation plan with a written construction bid. You may want to ask if they have a performance bond and liability insurance in case problems might develop during or after the construction process.

Once you identify a contractor, the next step is to schedule a site visit to examine the pond site to provide a first-hand evaluation of the soil type, topography, watershed area, drainage, need for a borrow area, presence of creeks or springs and tree, brush, bolder or debris removal.

Obtain the contractor’s recommendations as to the pond’s size, depth, dam location, water level and shoreline slope.

It’s important to identify and discuss the installation of mechanical and emergency spillways, WASCOB (dry dam), and a drain for the pond, according to Frazee

Additional options

He said this is also the time to discuss other additional options for your pond, which might include a sand beach, swimming area, boat ramp, dock, aerators or electric service.

Obtain from your contractor a projected timetable for construction, an estimated total cost for labor, equipment and materials and agree on the preferred method and timing for payment(s).

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