Top dam nearly full!

Just over 18 months since it was cleaned out and expanded, the ‘top’ dam near the house is nearly full. The new dam wall is a metre higher than it was so water is now diverted to a spillway at the south east corner of the dam. IF we have more decent rain in the next few days, I expect the spillway to fill!

Pumping the last water out before earthworks could begin

You can see from the above photo how shallow the dam was. It dried up nearly every Summer due to evaporation. Something needed to be done.

13 tonne excavator still working, with new dam to right

You can see the scale of the excavations when you notice the people on the new dam bank! How deep did we go? It was Dec 2017 so I’m frankly a bit fuzzy, but I reckon it must have been close to 6 metres.

June 2019 and nearly full
water creeping toward the spillway

We’ve had a little more rain since I took that photo so the water is right at the lip of the spillway. The local wood ducks are loving it! Once the water is in the 20m long spillway, I guess I’ll pull on rubber boots and go out with a mattock to fine tune the levels in the spillway. The plan is for the spillway to fill uniformly to a depth of 100 mm then overflow gently to the downhill side.


There is a small dam immediately above the house/studio area which looks lovely when it is full of water and the sun is shimmering off the surface.  It was built before I purchased the property and has one major design flaw – no overflow!  For 18 years, that was no problem, but in 2015 we had a very wet Winter and water just flowed over the front wall of the dam.  Not good.

To resolve this issue AND create a more useful dam, I’m having the dam cleaned out and the front wall rebuilt a metre higher.  We’ll take a spillway out the back and have it overflow into the wild garden where it will water the artichokes.

Step One – empty the dam of water

I borrowed a sump pump from my most excellent friend Richard and got it cranking.  Most of the water was sent out onto the driveway and then gravity took it to the duck pond dam below the house and vegetable garden.

The pre-existing trench beside the driveway had no hope of dealing with the amount the sump pump was generating, so I had to dig it out… about a spade width wide and deep seemed to do the trick.

Here’s the duck pond dam – full to overflowing.  This is our summer vegetable garden water, so it’s great to have it full.

A few days later and the top dam is nearly empty…  plus we found those three big pots that disappeared on a windy night.  With the duck pond full, water is now being pumped to behind the wild garden.

Then we had a big thunderstorm and water flowed into the dam – no problems, that’s what we want, right?  Pump went on again and I think we’re pretty close to done.

Keep an eye out for the dam reworking in a couple of weeks.  We have to let that lovely clay dry out before we get Joe in to work his magic.  Earthworks – all permies love ’em, right?