Building waterponds with a road grader

Waterponds slow the flow of water and give it an opportunity to soak into the soil.  This is because plants can only utilise rainfall when it becomes available as soil moisture.

Building a waterpond

A successful waterponding project involves four steps:

1) planning,

2) surveying,

3) building, and

4) management post construction.

In this presentation we focus on the third stage: building waterponds with a grader. Join Matt Fletcher (Development Officer – Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia), Ray Thompson (Rangeland Rehabilitation) and Jardine Mcdonald (Program Manager – Rangelands NRM) when they discuss the optimum building process.

It costs approximately $225 (2020) to waterpond one hectare (including construction and survey), which can be easily lost if ponds are not built to specification. For example, building past the survey end results in an increased depth of water being ponded and often results in a breakage and draining the pond of water.

Conversely, ponds built to specification can have a lifespan of 20 years with little maintenance.

You can watch the full recording or use the playlist below to jump to the start of a particular section within the presentation.  57:31; published 27 April 2020 by FutureBeefAu.

Download a copies of the presentations – Building a waterpond-Part-1 (PDF, 7.78 MB) and Building a waterpond-Part-2 (PDF, 3.37 MB).

Additional resources:

A full length video has been developed on ‘Building waterponds with a road grader’ by the West Kimberley Land Conservation District Committee (21:19; published 27 April 2020 by FutureBeefAu) and you can watch it here.

Full recording


    1. Disclaimer
    2. Building waterponds with a road grader (Matt Fletcher)
    3. Our presenters
    4. Waterponding
    5. Scalded areas and thick crusts
    6. 30 cm of sandy loam top soil lost
    7. Shrink and swell action
    8. Cracking of soil
    9. Other rehabilitation work
    10. Trialling different graders
    11. Four steps in a waterpond project
    12. Laser survey gear and tine markers (Ray Thompson)
    13. Typical waterponding configuration
    14. Scoping scald – horseshoe waterponds
    15. Flat scalds – circle waterponds
    16. Key points for waterponding construction
    17. First pass following the survey line
    18. Seed boxes and rippers
    19. Ripping across the waterpond
    20. Bank construction – the first pass
    21. Second pass
    22. Seeding the bank
    23. Third pass of construction
    24. Big horsepower machines are most efficient
    25. Freeboard on ponding bank
    26. Old Man saltbush seed germination
    27. Bringing soil back to life through waterponding (Jardine McDonald)
    28. What we did…
    29. Restoring balance to the water cycle
    30. Before and after…
    31. Monitoring site photos
    32. Before and after – grazing management
    33. The numbers…
    34. Key lessons and challenges
    35. Where to next?

Related resources

Spreader banks for water retention at Charleville (case study) →

Gully erosion — Options for prevention and rehabilitation (booklet) →

Addressing erosion issues in the Southern Gulf after dry years and a 1-in-100 year flood (case study) →