Pondless Waterfalls: Why Pondless?

by : Doug Hoover



Who built the first pondless waterfall? If I had to venture a guess, God did. What exactly is a pondless waterfall?A pondless waterfall is cascading water that vanishes in between rocks, collecting somewhere out of sight. In nature, maybe the water works its way into an underground chasm, or aquifer, or even a subterranean stream or river.

With building codes becoming stricter across the country, there are more regulations being imposed concerning the depth of a pond, especially in the light of increased numbers of deaths from drowning. Therefore, pond construction is restricted in many public thoroughfares.

Another issue to consider is vandalism: pranksters throw items in the water such as soap to create bubbles and foam; sometimes people simply discard trash in the water. All this makes pondless waterfalls more appealing.

A pondless waterfall is the answer to many problems in our diverse world. No pond, no maintenance! Another positive benefit of a pondless waterfall is the money that is saved. If you do not have a pond, less material and labor is required in the construction.

At the base of the waterfall is a collection basin. The width of the basin is usually a little wider than the waterfall. The breadth and depth of the basin determines how much water capacity there is. The larger the pondless waterfall, the larger the basin needs to be.

If the basin is too small, when the pump starts pumping water to the top of the falls, before it cascades back down into the basin it is almost empty. With a large basin, the differential between the amount of water being pumped from the basin and the water returning is minimized. This eliminates the possibility of the water being sucked dry in the basin before it has a chance to come all the way down.

When creating their pondless waterfalls, many pond liner installers place the pump in the bottom of the basin, and then they fill up the basin by piling rocks around and on top of the pump. The major problem with this lazy procedure is that when the sump pump gets fouled up with debris or simply wears out, all the dirty, slimy rocks need to be removed in order to service the pump.

If you construct the shell of the pondless waterfall and basin with concrete, then you can place a suction drain in the basin and use an above-ground pump. These are 40% to 50% more energy-efficient and have a 3-year warranty, rather than only 2 ? years, as have most sump pumps.

In addition, for convenience in cleaning, a ledge is formed around the perimeter of the basin to facilitate galvanized or plastic grids bridging the top of the basin. These grids are then covered with a single layer of rock to hide them. Then, when the time comes to clean the basin, it only takes minutes to remove the surface covering of rocks and grids.

With this type of concrete construction, the basin will hold a greater volume of water because it has not been filled with as many rocks, the way pond liner guys do. And it also provides a space in the pondless waterfall basin to install an electronic Aquafill automatic water leveler. This is necessary since there is no way of knowing when the basin needs to be refilled (until the pump burns up from lack of water).

I will cover more construction detail in Part II of this subject: Pondless Waterfalls: Concrete vs. Liners.

Happy koi, peace and joy … no koi, no joy.