A well-designed winery irrigation pond can last for decades, but the same wildlife you can easily attract with this kind of habitat enrichment may also cause damage. There’s no need to take an all-or-nothing approach to protecting the pond. You simply need to be aware of the various causes of damage, especially to the liner, banks, and any dams used to hold back the water. Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s not much work to check for signs of trouble every few months and implement changes if you notice problems.
Keeping Out Wildlife and Livestock
First, decide if you want wildlife to access the pond or if you’d prefer to keep it completely off limits. Fencing and bird netting can prevent wildlife from becoming injured if you have such large volume pumps that it’s impossible to ensure they won’t suck in birds and turtles. If you do want wildlife to use the pond as habitat, you’ll need to design it so they can’t access the liner with burrowing or digging. A layer of concrete is usually required in these cases. Livestock should be kept away from irrigation ponds, no matter what, since large animals simply weigh too much and disturb the banks extensively. Even a little trampling from visiting cows can have a lasting impact on a pond’s health and appearance.
Resisting Root Damage
The roots of nearby trees may start out dozens of feet from the edge of your pond, but they’ll grow towards the bank faster than you think. Aggressively spreading root systems can cover more than a dozen feet per year, quickly overtaking the most carefully planned space. One of the best ways to protect against future root damage is to install an underlayment specifically designed for root resistance. If you don’t have the budget for root shielding, at least commit to removing mature trees growing within about 100 feet of the pond’s edge. While trees around the edge of a pond are attractive and help shade the water, they’re very damaging to the liner. For a pond that is primarily designed for irrigation, trees just aren’t a good choice for shading.
Using Underlayment for Liners
Speaking of underlayment, they are valuable for more than just root protection. They’re also the best way to keep a liner from being stretched or torn if soil suddenly shifts and creates a void with no support. Thin liners rely on stable soil to keep them in place, but thicker layers of underlayment help bridge these gaps or prevent soil shifting in the first place. Underlayment is also the best protection against rocks that slowly work their way to the soil surface with freeze and thaw cycles. You can spend days meticulously removing all the rocks from a graded pond surface just to find your liner pierced by one that was buried feet deep at the time of installation. Underlayment is the best insurance against the movement of rocks, roots, and soil as the pond ages.
Choosing UV Protection
Pond liners, like most products made from polymers, are susceptible to damage from sun exposure. It’s the UV rays in particular that are damaging to liner materials. Just like they can cause damage your skin, UV rays break down plastic materials over time by degrading their bonds. Liners with advanced UV protection are safe to install exposed and without any particular cover materials. Many liner products from BTL Liners offer 20 years, or more, of exposed performance before experiencing significant sun damage. If you want to keep your irrigation pond liner exposed for easy cleaning, especially when dealing with the high amount of solids found in winery wastewater, choose a UV resistant product.
Banks are the most sensitive part of any pond because of the natural wave effects. Even small ponds will have water lapping at the banks, at some point, due to rainfall, pumping disturbances, and wind. Running the pond liner over the entire bank area is one of the best ways to prevent soil loss and erosion from all causes; including occasional visits from wildlife and livestock. Other methods include quick planting of all bare soil, covering with durable materials like concrete or rock, and the establishment of paved or sand covered areas for access.
With care, a winery irrigation pond can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years before needing major overhauls such as liner replacement. Choosing a long-lasting and UV resistant liner goes a long way in reducing maintenance costs. All of our pond liner products here at BTL Liners have good to great UV resistance, depending on the specific formulation. Talk to one of our expert team members today to get custom recommendations based on the style of liner installation you plan to use in your pond.