Ponds in Chatham County – Everything you wanted to know

Chatham County Land Sales Agent Eric Andrews discusses ponds! Will a pond increase the value of your property? Do you need a pond permit? Can cattle use your pond? How much does it cost to build a pond? Are ponds “designated wetlands”? All these questions and more are answered in this video!

Speaker 1:           It’s a good idea to build a pond on my property, will increase the value of the property?

Speaker 2:           It might increase the value of the property, it all depends. So one of the things that we tell people is, ponds are a nice feature, but you can’t build on a pond. So that land is unbuildable. But a lot of people like them. I’ve had some people tell me it takes 100 acres of runoff to make a 1-acre pond. So that’s a substantial amount. The County doesn’t like you blocking off blue-line, perennial streams. So it’s not easy to get all the permitting done.

Speaker 1:           Did you have to get a pond permit?

Speaker 2:           Oh, you have to get a pond permit. Yeah, sure do.

Speaker 3:           What if you just dig a hole [inaudible]?

Speaker 2:           So some people will say it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, but not the case for the ponds. They will nail you. We got erosion control issues. If you disturb more than 5,000 square feet in Chatham County, you have to have a permit. So I would imagine, if you’re going to take the time to build a pond, it’s going to be more than 5,000 square feet.

Speaker 3:           Can you just get rid of the pond when you’re done with it, if you don’t want?

Speaker 2:           You can, but they come around every four years, checking stuff out. People walk on your property, figure out what it’s worth every four years, then they’re going to see, “Oh, we didn’t see a pond here before. So I mean, and they send up airplanes every now and then too. I mean, so…

Speaker 1:           Can you fill the pond in the dirt when you’re done with it or not?

Speaker 2:           Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:           Oh, okay.

Speaker 2:           Yep, yep, all right.

Speaker 1:           It’s not protected water?

Speaker 2:           No, it can be protected. Yeah, that’s the irony. I’ve done subdivisions before, manmade pond is a designated wetland. A manmade pond can be a designated wetland. And so if it’s a small pond on a residential property, you can most likely tear the dam away and fill it in, or whatever. But if you’re looking at a subdivision and it’s a manmade pond, you probably have to keep it a pond because it’s a designated wetland, which I know, I mean, designated wetlands can be manmade. But I mean, if you have 10 acres, a quarter-acre to a one-acre pond is probably a nice feature, and it’s going to increase the value of your property. Everybody loves a little fishing hole, and having that feature on their property. I do think it’s quite funny that when people call me and say, “I want to buy a piece of raw land to put a house on,” and I’m like, “Okay, what kind of raw land do you want?” “I want half wooded, half pasture with a pond in the middle.”

Okay, well, that probably has a house there too, that’s not raw land. But yeah, ponds, a lot of people like ponds. Now, the good thing about Chatham County is we have some areas that are difficult to perk. Difficult to perk means that it makes for a bad septic system because that land doesn’t perk, percolate, it doesn’t absorb water. That’s good for building a pond. So when you drive in an area and you see a bunch of ponds, that’s nice, those are good features to have and everything, but that also probably indicates that the land does not perk very well. Or it’s just, it’s an agricultural situation. Believe it or not, it’s not legal to allow cattle to go into your pond. So if you have a pond and you’re letting your cattle go into it, and somebody from the County drives by, you can get a fine for that as well. And we see that all the time in Chatham County, it’s pretty common.

But there is a particular buyer, that’s exactly what they want, is a small pond on their property. Average price that I know of around here is going to be about $15,000 to $20,000. That’s to clear the land, to dig it out, to get down to the suitable soils and the clay that will hold water, and then to create the dam and put some kind of pipe and infrastructure. That’s probably the average price. If you get to a pond that’s extra large, or has a very high dam, then the dam has to be engineered, and you have to have a special permit for that as well.