When designing edible gardens, a site-specific problem will often crop up. One of the most enjoyable aspects of permaculture design for us is devising site-specific solutions to those problems. In this short series we give examples from our experience in Melbourne, with a new one whenever we get around to it…

Part Three – How to Drain a Duck Pond without getting Poo on your Hands

The Site-Specific Design Problem

The problem was how do you drain a duck pond in a way that

a) directs the overflow to the same exit pipe as when you drain it totally
b) doesn’t involve reaching your hand to the bottom of a pond full of duck poo
c) lets you easily drain out every last millimetre of sludge, and
d) lets you refill the pond without having to wait around to turn the tap off when it’s full

Here’s the design in which this conundrum arose.  The duckpond is just above the tank in the lower left (under an apricot) and the infiltration path/trench it feeds is the worm-like thing curving up and around under the fruit trees…

The Site-Specific Design Solution

After trying a few ideas that were expensive and only partially effective, the solution came to us.  We added a bathplug to the lowest point on the base of the pond, which would mean draining every last millimetre of water when it was opened up.  We then crafted a short length of 50mm PVC pipe with a rubber adapter that pushed snugly into both the pipe and the plughole.  In a single system this both defined the overflow point and allowed the whole pond to be drained by simply lifting the pipe up.  We then added a simple twist timer on the inlet pipe meaning you can pull the overflow pipe / plug out, let the pond drain in about 1 minute, twist the timer to however long it takes to full the pond, shove the overflow pipe / plug back in, and walk away.  It works so well we‚Äôll be using it in future duck ponds for sure.

Here’s an album showing the installation of the pond…

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…and here’s a youtube of what the ducks do when the plug is pulled.