In over my head, building a huge waterfall. Need pointers.

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but it depends so much where you are located if your in Arizona id expect serious evaporation due to sun temp and lack of moisture in the air. so there is no im this size pond on east coast zone 5 i loose this, your west cost zone 10 you loose that
West Region 8. We shouldn't be getting a ton of evaporation. Some for sure, but not 1" a day's worth.
 
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1 inch a day is on the highline but not impossible
 

YShahar

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A big garbage can full of quilt batting set up at the top of your pond will save on your water bill and collect a lot of that silt as you stir up the pond. It works but it takes some time to do it as you need to keep cleaning the batting when it gets full of silt and then put it all back in and do it over and over again. It does work! I have used a smaller set up at my pond when I want some yuck out of the water.

The hose is attached to a pump in the pond and sucks up water and goes over and through the batting and then water goes back into pond through holes in the plastic pot. Like I said for a big pond full of silt you will need to keep stirring up the water and use a big huge container

I did something like this to get some of the silt out. At first, I put the quilt batting in a milk crate and ran my pump pipe through it. Eventually seeing the milk crate at the head of my stream began to get on my nerves, so I put a bunch of quilt batting into a large army laundry bag (the kind made of netting material) and then arranged for the hose pipe to spray through the middle of the bag, synching up the strings on the bag around the pipe. With the quilt batting in place, you can stir up the water with your feet or with a broom and let the pump send the dirty water through the batting.
 

YShahar

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Quick update: I know I'll be tweaking the edges and the "finish" work for a long time, so I continue to do that. But we continue to lose about 1" per day, which totals out to ~150-200 gallons. That doesn't feel sustainable, as I think it would roughly triple our monthly water bill. So we are watching it daily and keeping notes. Hopefully, we can find the leak and sort it out soon.

If anyone has any ideas on tracking down the leak let me know.

Thanks all for all of your continued support.

Just typing out loud here, but since your system doesn't have fish in it yet, I'm wondering if you could dye the water and trace the leak that way. Presumably, the leaking water will leave a residue on the rocks or soil near the leak, and the dye could help you find where the problem areas are.
 
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Just typing out loud here, but since your system doesn't have fish in it yet, I'm wondering if you could dye the water and trace the leak that way. Presumably, the leaking water will leave a residue on the rocks or soil near the leak, and the dye could help you find where the problem areas are.
Thanks for the idea about cleaning.

In this case, there is no leak visible. I agree about dyeing the water, but I think it is escaping underneath.
 
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@GBBUDD You mean the first picture in the original post? I'll take one and upload. You and the rest of the people on this forum have been a huge help in getting me this far.
This is where my journey on this forum started. The bottom had a 300-gallon pondless setup. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had turned it on.
before.jpeg


After:
after.jpg


Again THANK YOU to everyone who has commented, answered my questions, had ideas and insight that I didn't have.
 
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Wow that is an amazing transformation. Great job. I have been curious about your issue of the water loss. I googled waterfall evaporation and the first article that popped up might explain your evaporation (if not it is still interesting in seeing how much evaporation can happen):

Courtesy of IPPCA*

Water evaporates. It also has been known to leak. The obvious question raised by many new water features’ owners is: “The water is going down – is it leaking?” A good general rule of thumb is that most water features will loose approximately 1 inch per week by evaporation.

HOWEVER, when there is a lower pond and a water feature such as a stream or waterfall above it, there is more to it than just looking at the lower pond and measuring the loss.
For example: An upper pond 6´ x 8´, a stream bed 15´ long and about 1´ wide of actual running water, and a lower pond that is only 10´ x 10´. If we actually had exactly one inch of evaporation it would translate to:

Lower Pond:
10´ x 10´ = 100 sq. ft., x 1/12 ft. deep = 8.33 cu. ft. x 7.4805 gal./cu. ft. = 62.3 gallons.

Streambed:
15´ x 1´ = 15 sq. ft., x 1/12 ft. deep = 1.25 cu. ft. x 7.4805 gal./cu. ft. = 9.35 gallons.

Upper Pond:
6´ x 8´ = 48 sq. ft., x 1/12 ft. deep = 4 cu. ft. x 7.4805 gal./cu. ft. = 29.2 gallons.

We now have a total evaporation of 100.85 gallons. But it is only affecting the level in the lower pond, since the pump is keeping the upper pond and streambed full. Therefore, 100.85 gallons divided by 7.4805 = 13.37 cu. ft. divided by 100 sq. ft. = .13 x 12 in./ft. = 1.6 inches of actual drop in the lower pond for each 1 inch of actual evaporation in the entire system.




Now we have to toss the equation some real variable, such as the **“splash factor”** in the streambed and waterfall. If it is a nice hot summer day and the water is splashing small droplets onto a hot rock, chances are that it will immediately evaporate rather than run back into the stream. Some, naturally, may actually splash completely out of the system. There might also be a small stick, leaf, plant stem, etc., that for the moment is laying across the edge of the stream and that is wicking some water along it and out of the system. And, do not forget the occasional herd of deer drinking at night, the herd of small neighborhood kids playing, or the large dog taking a swim and taking water out with him.


And, a hot day with low humidity will obviously have a different evaporation rate compared with a cold and damp day.

If the system is completely covered with, for example, cheap clear plastic, making sure that it is all held down on the edges **within the system** – so that any water splashing or condensing on it will run into the pond system and not outside of it – all evaporation can be eliminated and a much truer picture of “evaporation or leak” can be seen.

IPPCA – The International Professional Pond Companies Association. Our Mission: To Promote, Protect and Advance the Pond and Waterscape Industry.

For more information about the IPPCA see their website at www.ippca.com.
 
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Great article,
But I have to add not every location will have the same evaporation rate. If your in New England or Wisconsin your air will not be as dry as in Southern California.

Also not all waterfalls are created equal. A waterfall that has a four foot drop that has a nice sheet flow falling will loose less water than one that has thin branches of water falling.

And one of the biggest losses of water is how it lands at the bottom. Does it land on a flat rock or the rocks of a stream and splashing everywhere. Or dies it fall into a small foot deep pool. Or even falls onto a rock that's angled so the rock is like a ski jump and the water slides down the steep rock taking away some of its energy. And lessening the splash.

Another factor is WIND. Wind is responsible for more evaporation than is the sun by my understanding. In our case as the wind hits a tall waterfall it can drastically break up yhe traditional fall area of the falls and blow it right out of the containment area.

One big reason why pro pond builders promote character stones off to each side of the falls. They are generally placed creating a semi flattend out horse shoe. These rocks catch the water and let's it drain into containment.

When a waterfall is done right however like my pond it's energy cost, the water loss in my eyes is worth any cost.

I have spent many an evening coming home from work after a stressful day . Taking a seat pond side no phone, no tablet, no radio and just loose myself watching the fish, dragon flies, bids, and even the occasional turtle, snake or even bubbles floating across the pond or stream.

Feed the fish and just CHILL
 
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Looks amazing, The whole thing is coming together, but wait until you get the water running , You'll be expanding the patio in no time so you can sit and enjoy the feature for hours on end. Did you plan on two pumps? one for the falls and one for the pond filtration? building a gods honest oasis complete with palms . Like i said before, your not building a preform puddle pond. your building the real deal a challenge for any pond pro. If you get a machine again yeah got to throw a boulder here or there to tie everything together. I Know your bumbed about the leak you'll find it. You have taken a so so retaining wall system and truely made some eye candy when you get it done enter Aquascapes dyi . You never know you may win ,.I never expected too
 
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Looks amazing, The whole thing is coming together, but wait until you get the water running , You'll be expanding the patio in no time so you can sit and enjoy the feature for hours on end. Did you plan on two pumps? one for the falls and one for the pond filtration? building a gods honest oasis complete with palms . Like i said before, your not building a preform puddle pond. your building the real deal a challenge for any pond pro. If you get a machine again yeah got to throw a boulder here or there to tie everything together. I Know your bumbed about the leak you'll find it. You have taken a so so retaining wall system and truely made some eye candy when you get it done enter Aquascapes dyi . You never know you may win ,.I never expected too
Thanks for the kind words. Its been a labor of love. Hopefully we sort out the leak, then next spring I am putting in a deck.

I am planning to add another pump if I can. My goal was to use it to boost the lowest falls just a little.

Weather is turning so its tough to spend time out there.

thank you. I'll keep posting updates as they happen
 
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Thanks for the kind words. Its been a labor of love. Hopefully we sort out the leak, then next spring I am putting in a deck.

I am planning to add another pump if I can. My goal was to use it to boost the lowest falls just a little.

Weather is turning so its tough to spend time out there.

thank you. I'll keep posting updates as they happen
All the desire in the world can't build something like that. You have alot to be proud of you'll get past it you maybe missing some hair between then and now, but you'll get there.
 
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@GBBUDD been a couple months. Finally warming up enough to get outside. Getting a mini-ex next Tuesday to try and find the leak but I wanted to ask about caulk. What kind of caulk have you used for sealing off bibb liners and other liner areas?
 
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@GBBUDD been a couple months. Finally warming up enough to get outside. Getting a mini-ex next Tuesday to try and find the leak but I wanted to ask about caulk. What kind of caulk have you used for sealing off bibb liners and other liner areas?

Aquascapes uses silicone and that would probably be close one of my last choices. It dries out and the edges roll. I myself prefer a polyurethane base. Pl s30 is a caulk many here have used. The skin time is like 7 hours. To save a good deal in cost cutting pool noodles to fill in large gaps or actualy buying what's known as backer rod is a heck of a lot cheaper than filling large voids with waterfall foam. Backer rod spray foam the a skin of caulking is my method for the most part. If your good and it's pretty tight bib liner then maybe just caulk
 
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Ok, everyone, update and questions here.

I have a ton of videos but have no time to edit/cut them.

In April, we rented an excavator, pulled out 10-12 rocks, and sorted out where we thought the leak was. It was a long week but we believe we sorted out the issue.

We also reconfigured a few things and fixed some other issues we found along the way.

Yesterday we finally filled it and ran it again. In general, things worked well. I have a couple of small areas to clean up, but generally, it was all good.

To be honest with you all, I am super proud, but it's overwhelming. It's been 3-4 years of working on this thing to get to this point. The volume of blood sweat, tears, four-letter words, and work is hard to measure.

Enough venting. On to the update.

Here is the system running once the lights came on:


Here is a crappy picture of the pond mostly full:

IMG_2691.JPG



In total, we put about 3k gallons of water in. And best I can tell there is ~250 gals in motion when it is running.

On to my questions:

IMG_2691.JPG

  • In my case I don't have a skimmer - top right of the image is where my intake bay is. Bottom left is closest to the house and water supply. Any recommendations about how to setup an autofill? The purple arrow is where I think I'll mount it. The deck will cover that area so it would work to put something in there. My thought is to put a small post in the ground and mount it to that, then the deck will go over it.
  • Any specific recommendations for an auto-shutoff?
  • The two red arrows are dead zones where the water is not moving a ton. Any thoughts on moving the water towards the top right to get it into the intake?
  • Any chemical recommendations for keeping algae down this summer? We will start sorting out plants and stuff but I am open to chemicals for a couple months while its hot out.
Thanks everyone.
 

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