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Martin, Electrical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 4922
Experience:  Design, construct, fix and grow stuff around and in the home.
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How do I build a small lake on my property

Resolved Question:

How do I build a small lake on my property?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Martin replied 8 years ago.
HelloCustomer welcome to Just Answer.

What kind of terrain do you have, clay, sand?

Do you have a stream around? Does it rain a lot there?

How big do you want it?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hi Martin, I live in Alaska on 5 acres and I want to build a lake about 1/2 acre in size.

The terrain is flat with a stream and two springs on either side of the proposed site.

The base is rock and sand.

Expert:  Martin replied 8 years ago.
It should not be a problem to do a lake in Alaska. Only thing is i don't know the regulation about stream there. Around here, it's stipulated to not derive more than 50% at any time and need to install mechanism to allow fish to go upstream.

There is 2 way to make a lake, or you dig (that might be complicated if you are far from civilization or you build some kind of dam like my friends the beavers. The advantage of a dug lake is that it will freeze less profoundly (good if you want to keep trout in it). It's also easier to keep aquatic plant that will filter the lake. With the soil you mention, you probably don't need any membrane in the bottom (that reduce the cost greatly). Only thing you need is rocks around where the stream enter, and other rock where the stream exit the lake. The deepness of the lake need to account for a 1 feet deep ice sheet in winter. Again if you want fish, you need to plan special deeper region so the fish can go away from the heat in summer. If you happen to know someone that need filling material, you could ask them to take it at your home, it would speed the things a lot.

Doing a beaver like lake is the easiest and cheapest way, but it require a small slope and you say you are flat. You do it just like a beaver, you bring branch that you cover with mud from the inside. That make for very erosion proof dam. Erosion is the enemy for a dam lake as spring snow melting can make it break. You then need a valve system for the spring to evacuate the water surplus.

If you have wind, you can install a little windmill to oxygen the water. If you have a dominant wind, do it like a paint pan, with the deep side from where the wind is coming, that will allow for natural wave build up on the "beach" side so the oxygenation could be made naturally.

Just ask more questions if you need technical details or have special limitation you want to adress.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

You may have misunderstood my question...the stream would not flow into the lake, but

the springs I mentioned could (we can't divert streams here either, Salmon spawning

area). Would I divert the water from the lake back toward the creek from overflow? We are planning to dig, but the Springs should fill the lake (accounting for rain and melt off).

But should I trench from the lake to the stream to prevent overflow?

Expert:  Martin replied 8 years ago.
Yes, accounting for overflow is very important. You need to take the worst case (rapid snow meltdown of a snow rich winter) and calculate how that can exit the lake. That is why i mentioned the output need to be pad with rock (big heavy ones, boulder are the best, XXXXX XXXXX alder around that area should help to prevent erosion in case it goes over). The form of the exit need to be hydrodynamic to allow good flow in it, but not too much to not allow ice sheet breaking part to clog in in the spring by floating to easily there (or else a new creek can form elsewhere).

That said, locally, the lake will not collect more water than what the creek carry at any time (it will even have a bit less because of evaporation caused by surface increase). So, the creek should be able to take the surplus without a canal to the stream.

If the spring is constant, even in the dry part of summer, it's a good enough source.
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