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Conservation Choices: Pond

Pond Header

Pond PhotoWhat it is

A farm pond is a pool of water formed by a dam or pit. There are two types of ponds - embankment ponds, which are water impoundments made by constructing an embankment, and excavated ponds, which are formed by excavating a pit or dugout.

How it helps

  • Prevents soil erosion by eliminating gullies.
  • Protects water quality by collecting and storing runoff water.
  • Provides water for livestock, fish and wildlife, recreational opportunities, fire control, and to develop renewable energy systems.
  • Adds value and beauty to a farm or farmstead.
  • Provides a water supply for emergencies.

Planning ahead

  • Are adequate soil conservation measures installed above or upstream from the proposed pond site to protect it from filling with sediment?
  • Is there a dependable source of clean water to fill the pond?
  • Is the soil at the proposed site capable of holding water?
  • Will the pond store enough water for the proposed uses—i.e. livestock, wildlife, emergency water supply?
  • Can you incorporate vegetative species that benefit pollinators?

Tech Notes

  • Provide for principal and emergency spillways.
  • If the pond will be stocked for fishing, the pool should have at least 1/2 acre of surface area and be at least 8 feet deep.
  • If livestock are present, fence the embankment.
  • The landowner should secure necessary permits and/or easements.
  • Divert runoff from feedlots, barnyards and septic tanks if the pond is used for drinking water, livestock, wildlife or recreation.
  • Clear all trees and shrubs within at least 30 feet of the dam’s spillway and embankment.
  • Generally, for every surface acre of pond, there should be at least 10 acres of drainage area.


  • Keep outlet free of debris.
  • Keep burrowing animals, trees and shrubs off the dam.
  • Maintain grass cover on the dam.

Iowa Practice Standard