Friday, November 27, 2009

The Genesis of a Pond, or The Myth of Sisyphus

This is the story of a dream pond turned nightmare - a pond which I still love despite a glaring, monumental defect in its construction. I'm sure ours is not an unfamiliar story to those who have had a similarly bad experience working with unlicensed contractors. So, it is with resigned resignation that I put forth the following pictorial expose of the genesis of said pond.  





7/2/08 Fixing the original mistake (or not)


 10/17/08 Lesser Goldfinch at top of falls

3/30/09 Mallard Ducks



In a nutshell, the original contractor we hired to build the pond seemed quite knowledgable and capable in the beginning, and quoted us a very reasonable price for a rather sizable pond. He said he was going to use the native rock from our site to line the pond perimeter and he also had the brilliant idea to put build a "bridge" over the water, requiring the installation of 6 concrete footings in the pond to support the large stone slabs that would form the "walkway" over the water.

Not being experts at pond construction, little did we realize that when Mark (the ersatz "contractor) cut holes into the flexible liner to accommodate those footings, he had irrevocably compromised the integrity of the liner. The end result was that our pond has been leaking ever since anywhere from 6-12" per day. Not that we didn't notice or complain initially, but Mark, that incredible jerk, refused to return our phone calls after he had unsuccessfully tried to fix the leak a couple times. He knew he had screwed up big time on this job and decided to skip out on us altogether. 

Then in July we hired Glen (electrician who wired our house and self-professed Koi pond expert) to fix the leak, and he spent several weeks and no small amount of moolah ostensibly repairing the problem, while also building up the waterfall a couple tiers to give it more dramatic effect. In terms of repairing the leak, Glen replaced the liner with something more heavy duty but left the footings in place. He did add extra concrete around the footings to "seal" the areas where the liner had been cut around them. My gut instinct told me that the footings had to go or the pond would continue leaking  - but I had deferred to Glen's expert opinion on this matter. Sure enough, after Glen completed the repair, the water level continued to drop, unabated, by several inches every day. Glen's response? Nah - don't worry, it's just "evaporation", which will happen with a pond of that size. Are you kidding me? The drudgery of having to refill the pond every day because of an "evaporation" problem seemed beyond ludicrous. Who the hell would put in a 3,000+ gallon water feature in their landscape just for the sheer pleasure of having to add water to it on a daily basis?  So Gilbert told him no, we didn't think the leak was fixed and could he just please take out all the footings. Well, it was clear at that point that Glen was not a happy camper - sure he could take the footings out, but he was going to have to charge us more moolah to do so.

That was the last straw. Felt like we had been had twice and throwing money with reckless abandon down a bottomless pit. So, we just said no - no more repairs - and put a temporary cease and desist on this neverending nightmare.

To this day, the pond continues to bleed H20 at the same rate, but on the bright side, that water is irrigating the pondside plantings I have installed. And, thank goodness, our water bill has not been adversely affected. For now, we'll just keep on refilling and enjoying the multitude of birdies and other critters that like to bathe, drink, swim and/or otherwise congregate in and around this Sisyphusean watering hole.

Moral of the story is, it's worth the extra money to hire a licensed contractor to do pond construction. That's what we plan to do down the line when we have the budget and energy to tackle this baby once again.

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