Fixing a leaky dam


Staff member
I've got a small, spring fed water hole that sits topographically above a much larger pond. The two are essentially separated by a dam. After years of SC drought the spring ran dry, so we didn't have to worry about overflow from the smaller hole. We've had some major rain over the last couple of years, however, and the spring is running again. This presented a problem: the water from the spring wants to go through the dam.

Overflow started to erode the dam after hurricane Matthew:


The plan was to dig a trench in the leaky spot and install a pipe. Water was flowing well before long:

I used 2 10' sections of 4" sewer pipe with a 90 degree elbow on one end. This will allow me to adjust the depth of the water by adding different sized sections of vertical pipe. I set 4 bags of quikcrete around the pipe to build a cement dam, then dumped 4 trackho loads of dirt down on the hole thing.


After a couple of hours, it was clear that the water was rising again. Unfortunately, water was leaking through the dam around the pipe. I've ordered a 50 lb bag of bentonite to sprinkle around the pipe. Hopefully the bentonite will be sucked into the leak and seal it. Any other suggestions?

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Sounds like you didn't compact the soil around the pipe. If you still have the trackhoe around compact the soil around the pipe but be careful not to bust the pipe. If you can find a piece of metal pipe you could compact much easier and not damage to the pipe.
Hell no. I do NOT want a beaver. :)

Got my supplies in the back of the truck, so hopefully 24 hours from now the damn will no longer be leaky.
Checked on the dam before setting otter traps. It looks pretty good! Water is definitely trickling through somewhere, but the water rose enough to start going through the overflow pipe. There is a steady stream of water coming through the pipe. Will make a video and attempt to fix the small leak.
I would be sure and screen your ends or you may end up with turtles and the like in that pipe,looks like pretty sandy soil.I will take some serious packing.I would try to find some clay or at least black dirt
Bentonite was applied upstream all around the pipe and surrounding area. You are looking at pea gravel I dumped all around the downstream side (and upstream but it's underwater now).