Fishponds are good sources of livestock water if properly constructed. Ponds less than 2 acres should be fenced to exclude livestock, and a pipe should be installed through the dam to a stock tank located below the dam outside the fenced area. Keeping livestock out of the pond benefits both the pond and livestock from an animal health and economic standpoint. Weight gains are greater for cattle that water out of tanks than those that drink the same water they live in. When livestock are allowed access to the pond shoreline, they trample banks, decrease the useful life span of the pond, and prevent development of desirable fish communities by muddying and overenriching the water.
Irrigation and sport fishing are usually not compatible uses due to the large fluctuation of water levels and possibilities of summer and winter fish kills. Small gardens and lawns can be irrigated from large ponds if sufficient drainage area is available to offset water use and losses such as leakage and evaporation.
Silt and Flood Water Detention
Ponds designed to retain silt and high volumes of water normally remain turbid for long periods. Sight feeding fish like bass and bluegill do poorly in such ponds. Channel catfish can be stocked in ponds with muddy water with success as long as no spawning sites are available. Catfish overpopulation is a threat if spawning occurs.
A pond of from 2 to 5 acres can provide many hours of fishing, non-power boating, and other recreation activities. Power boating and skiing do not normally mix well with fishing because wave action can erode the shoreline and muddy the water. Sight feeding fish do poorly under such conditions. Ponds over 5 acres are sometimes suitable for public recreation on a fee basis. If the pond is to be used for recreation, safety measures are needed. All trees and other material should be removed from the marked swimming area, and lifesaving equipment such as ring buoys and ropes should be available. A ladder or long plank should be placed near the pond during ice skating season in case of an accident.
Ponds, like any body of water, attract people. This can lead to the possibility of an accident. The liability of the pond owner can vary depending on whether the party is an invited guest, a trespasser, or an individual who has paid fees. Many other factors can influence the pond owner’s liability in case of accident. It is recommended that pond owners consult their attorneys and insurance agents for proper protection against lawsuit.
A fishpond can provide water for fire fighting if it is located near a house or buildings. A pond can also be used to fill a fire truck if a proper access road is available.