In view of the very serious drought, which many areas of the country are now experiencing, what can be done to save water if one has a water feature? Some commercial and municipal entities have actually drained their water features and put up signs, which basically say the water features were drained, in order to conserve water. Must we go to this extreme to save water? NO! If we give thoughtful consideration to water conservation in water features, we can significantly reduce water loss and keep our water features going. Is it realistic to think that everyone will drain his or her water features? NO. So we must explore what can be done to help others.
As a whole, water features can be broken into two categories
1) Bodies of water filled with plants and animal life called eco-systems or ponds.
2) Bodies of water with water only, these are usually filled with chlorine and chemicals to keep the algae to a minimum. These water features take on many shapes and are called by such names as “fountains,” “pondless waterfalls” and fountain technology.” This article will briefly deal with ways to minimize water loss to both kinds of water features.
Ponds or eco-systems are bodies of water, which house fish and plant life. To accommodate the living organisms in a pond, minimal, or no chemicals are used. The pumps on these water features must keep going 24/7. One way that water is lost is through evaporation. Running water is lost at a faster rate than still water. If you have wet hands, what happens when you rub them together? The water evaporates. This also happens with a large waterfall. If possible, perhaps a second, lower volume pump could be added to the system, along with a pressurized filter which would filter the pond and return the clean water to the pond, rather than through the raging water fall. This would do two things. It would lower your electricity bill because it draws less water and it would reduce water loss due to less friction.
Fountains and pondless waterfalls are bodies of water, which are used purely for aesthetic purposes. No animal life is found in these bodies of water; therefore, the water does not need oxygen to support life. Chemicals are used to keep this water clean. These water features should NOT be run without a timer. Why would anyone run a water feature in the middle of the night? The timer for this type of water feature should be set to go on in the morning and go off in the evening, when the day is over.
Water being hit by direct sun evaporates quickly on a hot day. Water, which is protected from direct sunlight, is much slower to evaporate. Perhaps an overhang could be added over the water feature, thus creating shade, thereby reducing water loss. If a shade structure is not possible, then, adding a “milk crate” type of bottom to the entire bottom of the water feature might be another water saving device. These plastic boxes are commercially available through pond company manufacturers. The nice thing is they hold huge amounts of water and allow water to pass through. They can be covered over with cobble rocks for a real attractive look. They keep sitting water from being in contact with direct sunlight.
These are just some of the simple solutions we can do to keep our water features going during the drought. This amounts to having our cake and eating it too. Our environment is in trouble. The Green industry is rising to the challenge by giving us technology so that we can be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. We must research what the world has to offer in the way of electrical conserving pumps. SmartLandscaping.org is a good resource for water saving technologies and methodologies.