Spring-Stream-Pond Construction: Liner, Pump, Filter


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Hi Folks,
I have a background in wildlife ecology and construction, but I do not have experience with water pumps, filters, or pond liners. I am working on a plan for a 100-ft long stream with a gurgling spring at the upper end and a pond at the lower end. My desire is to attract wildlife, particularly dragonflies and birds, but also amphibians and reptiles. I don't plan to put in any koi or other non-native fish, but am pondering eventually putting in some local native species and want the water safe/clean for wildlife.

Attached is my habitat design, and following are the pump/filter/liner questions I have for planning. I'm very much looking forward to your advice/experience. :)

PUMP: I need to return water from pond to spring, about 100 ft with 3 ft rise. I am assuming I would pump from the pond up to the spring.

--Submersible vs external? What are main issues? Quiet would be nice.

--Magnetic vs direct drive? Magnetic sounds really nice and quiet, sealed, no oil, etc., but could it move the water 100 ft and up 3 ft? What about dealing with debri? I have an Oregon white oak tree over the pond, which will put in leaves.

--GPH: I guess that's partly up to me on how much water I want flowing, but see specs in drawing if you might have a suggestion. I've read a rule of thumb of a GPH rating of about half the volume of a pond, but does that include the entire stream as well?

--Also related to GPH: is flow volume determined only by the pump, or also by valves/piping? I'm wondering about varying the flow once in a while. Does that hurt the pump?

--I am someone that doesn't want to be cleaning filters every week, so perhaps I need a pump that can chug through a lot of debris?

--I already have a "sump pump" I use in construction situations or under a house; I'm guessing I could use that just to empty/clean out the pond when needed?

FILTERS: I do have a large Oregon white oak tree near the terminal pond, so will probably get a fair number of leaves and debris in there. The spring and stream area will not have tree canopy, but will eventually have small streamside forbs, ferns, or shrubs.

--I wonder if my filtering needs depend on what pump I use? I am someone that doesn't want to be cleaning filters every week, so perhaps I need a pump that can chug through a lot of debris? Which then means my "filter" could just be one of those plastic bins/containers/buckets with 1/2" holes in it, or something like that?

RETURN PIPING: I am intending on running the return piping fairly deep just to get 100 ft of opportunistic cooling.

--Should the return piping (from pond to spring) be located within the liner, underneath the stream, or outside the liner?

LINER: For projects like this, I prefer to invest in materials that I can be confident will last a long time and are not likely to be injured during construction.

--If I can get a liner to underlay the entire 100 ft, I'd like to do that so I don't have seams to worry about.

--I've read of some people having and underlayment / underliner???

--I've seen VINYL, PVC, HDPE, etc., and with different ratings such as 13 oz, 20 mil, etc. Any suggestions on type and thickness for my application?

CHANNEL CROSS-SECTION: Having worked in natural streams, I've seen how stream organisms use the subsurface water column, and how stream water is cooled by subsurface flow, which is why I'm intending to create a channel of cobble/gravel/sand substantially larger and deeper than the actual surface water (see attached design). My initial concern was whether or not I would get surface flow, or if the water would all just go subsurface and come out at the pond. However, I figure that if I have enough sand in the subsurface matrix, and with my fairly low slope, and enough return volume, I should get a surface stream, as well as some slow subsurface flow. Any comments on this appreciated.

Thank-you and feel free to ask any questions of me! :)
Matt Hunter
 

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addy1

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-I've seen VINYL, PVC, HDPE, etc., and with different ratings such as 13 oz, 20 mil, etc. Any suggestions on type and thickness for my application?
I used some liner form bend tarp and liner in Oregon. I bought ppl36. They made my stream liner 9 feet wide and 85 feet long. I ended up needing to cut it as my stream ended up doing switch backs to make it down our slope.

The pond and bog had a liner that was around 45x40 or something like that.

I like their liner, the deer walk in my stream, they have not damaged the liner one bit. I also had a deer get stuck in my big pond, I have it on tape fighting to get out. Its little sharp hooves caused zero damage.
Their liner is really tough.
https://www.btlliners.com/liners/residential-pond-liners/

When I compared ppl36 (think they have changed names of the liner now) to epdm, the burst rate, strength was better.

The company will cut it to the width and length you want, so you end up with one piece. It is lighter, but stiffer then epdm. I like the fact it does not get as slippery as epdm.
 

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GPH: I guess that's partly up to me on how much water I want flowing, but see specs in drawing if you might have a suggestion. I've read a rule of thumb of a GPH rating of about half the volume of a pond, but does that include the entire stream as well?
My set up is the water turns over about once every 1 1/2 or 2 hours. I have added more ponds = more water, since I built it, all run with one pump. The pond stays great with that flow, but again I filter with a big bog.

I use a external pump. rated around 6800 gph, from dragon lim. My stream is a clear water pump that can handle the 100 feet of head pressure, harbor freight. Around 1600 gph, (going by memory lol) Run on a timer.

Both external to me easier to care for. Just a leaf basket I clean out once a year.
 
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My initial concern was whether or not I would get surface flow, or if the water would all just go subsurface and come out at the pond.
My stream is 6ft wide also, but much shorter and only around 8" deep. I made pools so that they fill up and spills over to shallow areas. This did 2 things, one is keep my stream the 5-6ft width of water flow and the second was it keep shallow areas for the birds and frogs to be. The deeper areas also can be planted. I think 3ft maybe too deep, the critters that will come will poop and you get plant/leaf debris and it will settle down deep into the stream bed. You can then easily end up with DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) in the pond which can cause foaming in the pond area. I actually turnover the deep parts of my stream to make pockets right down to the liner then I suck the debris/poop with a pond vac. You will be amazed how much does settle down onto the liner.

I think your stream at 1 1/2 wide may be a little narrow depending on how you plant the stream. they close up fast in the peak growing season. Seeing how you have such a wide stream I would go wider with the water surface myself.

My pump is housed in my skimmer 4800 GPH and I have a submerged pump 1800 GPH going into a bio filter dumping into the stream and I need up with approximately 6000 gph running into the stream.

here is a pic of my stream

IMG_2012 by A & R Photography, on Flickr

Morning Stream by A & R Photography, on Flickr

IMG_2056 by A & R Photography, on Flickr

Pond panorama by A & R Photography, on Flickr
 
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I used some liner form bend tarp and liner in Oregon. I bought ppl36. They made my stream liner 9 feet wide and 85 feet long. I ended up needing to cut it as my stream ended up doing switch backs to make it down our slope.

The pond and bog had a liner that was around 45x40 or something like that.

I like their liner, the deer walk in my stream, they have not damaged the liner one bit. I also had a deer get stuck in my big pond, I have it on tape fighting to get out. Its little sharp hooves caused zero damage.
Their liner is really tough.
https://www.btlliners.com/liners/residential-pond-liners/

When I compared ppl36 (think they have changed names of the liner now) to epdm, the burst rate, strength was better.

The company will cut it to the width and length you want, so you end up with one piece. It is lighter, but stiffer then epdm. I like the fact it does not get as slippery as epdm.
WOW! I looked at BTL and I'm very impressed with their website and material. I think I'll contact them and get a quote on materials.
 
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My set up is the water turns over about once every 1 1/2 or 2 hours. I have added more ponds = more water, since I built it, all run with one pump. The pond stays great with that flow, but again I filter with a big bog.

I use a external pump. rated around 6800 gph, from dragon lim. My stream is a clear water pump that can handle the 100 feet of head pressure, harbor freight. Around 1600 gph, (going by memory lol) Run on a timer.

Both external to me easier to care for. Just a leaf basket I clean out once a year.
I looked up "clear water pump," as that was a new term for me. Sounds like most pumps are clear water pumps, as they are intended to pump clear water or with only minor amounts of small squishy debris, whereas "trash pumps" and "semi-trash pumps" are made to handle a bit more gunk. Thanks for your specs on pump volume; sounds like the rule of thumb (move 1/2 water volume per hour) is a reasonable estimate to start with.
 
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I don't follow the flow rules, most statements say turn over the pond every hour or every 1/2 hour.
That is just what harbor freight called it.
 
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My stream is 6ft wide also, but much shorter and only around 8" deep. I made pools so that they fill up and spills over to shallow areas. This did 2 things, one is keep my stream the 5-6ft width of water flow and the second was it keep shallow areas for the birds and frogs to be. The deeper areas also can be planted. I think 3ft maybe too deep, the critters that will come will poop and you get plant/leaf debris and it will settle down deep into the stream bed. You can then easily end up with DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) in the pond which can cause foaming in the pond area. I actually turnover the deep parts of my stream to make pockets right down to the liner then I suck the debris/poop with a pond vac. You will be amazed how much does settle down onto the liner.

I think your stream at 1 1/2 wide may be a little narrow depending on how you plant the stream. they close up fast in the peak growing season. Seeing how you have such a wide stream I would go wider with the water surface myself.

My pump is housed in my skimmer 4800 GPH and I have a submerged pump 1800 GPH going into a bio filter dumping into the stream and I need up with approximately 6000 gph running into the stream.

here is a pic of my stream
Thanks Rob&Amy! Thanks for all the input! Beautiful pond and stream you have! I like the combination of pools and shallow areas. I am debating regarding how much "cleaning" to do over time, and probably won't really know until I just see how it goes. My original intention was/is to have stream with more natural conditions, which includes a fair amount of organic matter, at least in season, so not very "clean" so-to-speak. If I really "cleaned" it thoroughly, I would probably end up cleaning out any dragonfly and damselfly larvae and other larval insects or other critters present there, though most of them would end up repopulating probably. I may just have to see how it goes!

Thanks for your GPH estimates. Combined with your photos that gives me an idea of what type of flow that would produce. Much appreciated!
 

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I am debating regarding how much "cleaning" to do over time, and probably won't really know until I just see how it goes.
The only cleaning mine gets is when the plants via seeds roots whatever, start to fill in the stream bed. I have frogs living in the multiple shallow areas of the stream.
I also have two decent sized ponds (fishless) in the stream, full of plants and critters. And a bunch of small ponds. I have cleaned the stream ponds once since I built them. They got to full of muck.
 
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Following your thread. What type of pump are you deciding on. I have also read anywhere from 10%-30% of water turnover per hour is good - and without fish, how deep wqill yours be? I’m thinking a small 1m deep bit is needed for some reason but the rest can be shallow. All about keeping it clean!
 
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Following your thread. What type of pump are you deciding on. I have also read anywhere from 10%-30% of water turnover per hour is good - and without fish, how deep wqill yours be? I’m thinking a small 1m deep bit is needed for some reason but the rest can be shallow. All about keeping it clean!
I haven't gotten much feedback on the pump, so I'm still pretty clueless at this point.
 
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I haven't gotten much feedback on the pump, so I'm still pretty clueless at this point.
Sequence, Laguna are all good pumps. Low power usage, run well. Decide on the amount of water, pick a pump that will handle a turn over of around once a hour. Mine turns over less, but I have a huge filter system.
Some of them handle head pressure. Mine could not handle the stream head pressure, so I had to add a small pump on a timer to feed the stream and deck ponds.

Figure out head pressure, height, length of pipes, connections and see if any of the pumps can push the water you want. I went with external pump, my preference, to me easier to care for.
 
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Hi Folks,
I have a background in wildlife ecology and construction, but I do not have experience with water pumps, filters, or pond liners. I am working on a plan for a 100-ft long stream with a gurgling spring at the upper end and a pond at the lower end. My desire is to attract wildlife, particularly dragonflies and birds, but also amphibians and reptiles. I don't plan to put in any koi or other non-native fish, but am pondering eventually putting in some local native species and want the water safe/clean for wildlife.

Attached is my habitat design, and following are the pump/filter/liner questions I have for planning. I'm very much looking forward to your advice/experience. :)

PUMP: I need to return water from pond to spring, about 100 ft with 3 ft rise. I am assuming I would pump from the pond up to the spring.

--Submersible vs external? What are main issues? Quiet would be nice.

--Magnetic vs direct drive? Magnetic sounds really nice and quiet, sealed, no oil, etc., but could it move the water 100 ft and up 3 ft? What about dealing with debri? I have an Oregon white oak tree over the pond, which will put in leaves.

--GPH: I guess that's partly up to me on how much water I want flowing, but see specs in drawing if you might have a suggestion. I've read a rule of thumb of a GPH rating of about half the volume of a pond, but does that include the entire stream as well?

--Also related to GPH: is flow volume determined only by the pump, or also by valves/piping? I'm wondering about varying the flow once in a while. Does that hurt the pump?

--I am someone that doesn't want to be cleaning filters every week, so perhaps I need a pump that can chug through a lot of debris?

--I already have a "sump pump" I use in construction situations or under a house; I'm guessing I could use that just to empty/clean out the pond when needed?

FILTERS: I do have a large Oregon white oak tree near the terminal pond, so will probably get a fair number of leaves and debris in there. The spring and stream area will not have tree canopy, but will eventually have small streamside forbs, ferns, or shrubs.

--I wonder if my filtering needs depend on what pump I use? I am someone that doesn't want to be cleaning filters every week, so perhaps I need a pump that can chug through a lot of debris? Which then means my "filter" could just be one of those plastic bins/containers/buckets with 1/2" holes in it, or something like that?

RETURN PIPING: I am intending on running the return piping fairly deep just to get 100 ft of opportunistic cooling.

--Should the return piping (from pond to spring) be located within the liner, underneath the stream, or outside the liner?

LINER: For projects like this, I prefer to invest in materials that I can be confident will last a long time and are not likely to be injured during construction.

--If I can get a liner to underlay the entire 100 ft, I'd like to do that so I don't have seams to worry about.

--I've read of some people having and underlayment / underliner???

--I've seen VINYL, PVC, HDPE, etc., and with different ratings such as 13 oz, 20 mil, etc. Any suggestions on type and thickness for my application?

CHANNEL CROSS-SECTION: Having worked in natural streams, I've seen how stream organisms use the subsurface water column, and how stream water is cooled by subsurface flow, which is why I'm intending to create a channel of cobble/gravel/sand substantially larger and deeper than the actual surface water (see attached design). My initial concern was whether or not I would get surface flow, or if the water would all just go subsurface and come out at the pond. However, I figure that if I have enough sand in the subsurface matrix, and with my fairly low slope, and enough return volume, I should get a surface stream, as well as some slow subsurface flow. Any comments on this appreciated.

Thank-you and feel free to ask any questions of me! :)
Matt Hunter

Hi Matt
Curious to see how far you have got with your project. I am in a similar situation to you when you posted this post with the pond filled with water BUT struggling with how do I get a pump (and filter?) in without decimating the wildlife. Understandably I am getting lots of advice so grateful to hear what equipment (pump / filter) you went with in the end and did you allow for the safety of the little critters :-0
The closest I have got to a workable solution is to kind of create some kind of reservoir specifically for the stream so the pump can sit in the reservo 1E67B9A7-30F4-4F82-A6E5-9730A39B5540.jpeg C0004737-17A3-4E67-84D7-E431F29DAD8E.jpeg B037E220-896B-4AA5-B94F-6698610F954B.jpeg ir; sounds logical but I just need to hear from someone who has done something similar. Attached my work in progress.
 
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I use a submersible debris handling pump. It's a Tetra DHP-3600. I dealing with about 1800 gallons of water. It's been very good to me over the years.

I no longer use store bought filters. Too much maintenance and most are inadequate. I exclusively use a wetland bog. No UV lights either.

All my plumbing is within the pond/bog. If I ever get a leak, I will never lose water. I use black schedule 40 flex PVC (1-1/2") within the pond. I increased the size to 2" within the bog.

It's best not to empty and clean out your pond. You will kill off the beneficial bacteria residing all over everything in your pond and have to start the process all over. My water has been in there for years. I let nature do the water exchanges through rain.

From your statement, you sound like the perfect candidate for a bog. In my opinion, it's the best natural way to filter your pond. Zero maintenance. As long as my electricity is good, it's runs itself.
 
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Oh, the preferred liner material is 45 mil EPDM. Some have used HDRPE. My pond is EPDM and my bog is HDRPE.
Stay far far away from PVC liners. They get brittle and leak within months.
 
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My stream is 6ft wide also, but much shorter and only around 8" deep. I made pools so that they fill up and spills over to shallow areas. This did 2 things, one is keep my stream the 5-6ft width of water flow and the second was it keep shallow areas for the birds and frogs to be. The deeper areas also can be planted. I think 3ft maybe too deep, the critters that will come will poop and you get plant/leaf debris and it will settle down deep into the stream bed. You can then easily end up with DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) in the pond which can cause foaming in the pond area. I actually turnover the deep parts of my stream to make pockets right down to the liner then I suck the debris/poop with a pond vac. You will be amazed how much does settle down onto the liner.

I think your stream at 1 1/2 wide may be a little narrow depending on how you plant the stream. they close up fast in the peak growing season. Seeing how you have such a wide stream I would go wider with the water surface myself.

My pump is housed in my skimmer 4800 GPH and I have a submerged pump 1800 GPH going into a bio filter dumping into the stream and I need up with approximately 6000 gph running into the stream.

here is a pic of my stream

IMG_2012 by A & R Photography, on Flickr

Morning Stream by A & R Photography, on Flickr

IMG_2056 by A & R Photography, on Flickr

Pond panorama by A & R Photography, on Flickr

Beautiful, simply a stunning pond and stream and one not dissimilar with what I have in mind for our garden. The pond is complete (ish) so struggling with the stream/waterfall area and mainly due to the old argument of wildlife and pond pump/filter. Do you have fish in your pond? What pump and filtration system have you used? Does it upset the wildlife balance with the pump being in place or have you got around that somehow? Apologies for the questions but I feel that I am at a crucial stage of my build and I seem to be going back and forth with regard to pump and filtration. I need a pump to get the water up to the top of the stream but I am concerned that I may lose the small amphibious animals. Grateful for your thoughts.
 
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I use a submersible debris handling pump. It's a Tetra DHP-3600. I dealing with about 1800 gallons of water. It's been very good to me over the years.

I no longer use store bought filters. Too much maintenance and most are inadequate. I exclusively use a wetland bog. No UV lights either.

All my plumbing is within the pond/bog. If I ever get a leak, I will never lose water. I use black schedule 40 flex PVC (1-1/2") within the pond. I increased the size to 2" within the bog.

It's best not to empty and clean out your pond. You will kill off the beneficial bacteria residing all over everything in your pond and have to start the process all over. My water has been in there for years. I let nature do the water exchanges through rain.

From your statement, you sound like the perfect candidate for a bog. In my opinion, it's the best natural way to filter your pond. Zero maintenance. As long as my electricity is good, it's runs itself.

Hi and could you give me some advice on the 'bog' element please. I have already dug out, lined and filled my pond but with hindsight I could have planned it better. You might have read in other threads that I am really struggling with what do do about a pump and filtration given that my pond will be a wildlife pond and I don't want the pump sucking in all the amphibious critters. I don't really want to empty my pond to redesign it but I need to somehow pump up water to the top of the stream and I cannot do that without a pump. Grateful if you could give me an idea on how and where would I introduce a bog to my existing pond?
Thank you.
 
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Beautiful, simply a stunning pond and stream and one not dissimilar with what I have in mind for our garden. The pond is complete (ish) so struggling with the stream/waterfall area and mainly due to the old argument of wildlife and pond pump/filter. Do you have fish in your pond? What pump and filtration system have you used? Does it upset the wildlife balance with the pump being in place or have you got around that somehow? Apologies for the questions but I feel that I am at a crucial stage of my build and I seem to be going back and forth with regard to pump and filtration. I need a pump to get the water up to the top of the stream but I am concerned that I may lose the small amphibious animals. Grateful for your thoughts.
Thank you, I do have fish in the pond, Butterfly Koi and Goldfish. I also get frogs and ducks each year too. I use all Savio filters. I have one skimmer with the largest pump in it. I have 3 additional filters with small pumps that are in the pond and then the waterfall filter. I have lost a couple frogs because they drowned, I did not realize that could not climb out once in there, know I put a mesh net like material so they have a place to go to. I open the skimmer a couple times a day to see if anything is in there, if so just remove them. I rarely get any fish in there, mostly frogs but usually just during breeding in the spring. Overall really no issues for wildlife. I never had tadpoles in there just adult frogs. More so toads or tree frogs but never bullfrogs.
 
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Hi and could you give me some advice on the 'bog' element please. I have already dug out, lined and filled my pond but with hindsight I could have planned it better. You might have read in other threads that I am really struggling with what do do about a pump and filtration given that my pond will be a wildlife pond and I don't want the pump sucking in all the amphibious critters. I don't really want to empty my pond to redesign it but I need to somehow pump up water to the top of the stream and I cannot do that without a pump. Grateful if you could give me an idea on how and where would I introduce a bog to my existing pond?
Thank you.
You could get a submersible pump and make a screen cage to go around it; that would save all but the smallest of fry from being sucked in. I'd put this pump and cage up off the bottom of the pond about 12", to avoid sucking in either heavy debris or fry. You might have to monitor and make sure it's not getting clogged and needing cleaning.

If you have enough gph on the pump (or have one pump for the pond, one for the wfall/potential bog), you could Y off and send it to your waterfall. When I did my expansion, I made sure all my piping was inside the pond/wfall/bog so any leaks are contained; gives me more peace of mind. My pond is 7K gallons; I have (2) 4K pumps, each feeding a wfall and bog. 2 pumps instead of one large insures if one dies, the other can keep the pond healthy until I get a replacement. One pump = better run fast.

Another good idea here is to have any fill-up hoses on a timer and also have a float valve on your pump, to insure it won't empty your pond by accident.

When you calculate the head, you DO take into account any fittings and lengths ABOVE water level. Anything at or under, you can ignore. Look online for head calculators and then look at pump specs. For instance, my Danner can pump up to 15' of head but I only needed about 4'. The more head, the more flow loss you'll get. A pro tip; increase the size of your pump outlet AT THE OUTLET to get more/better gph. Mine was 1-1/2" and I put an adaptor that increased it to 3", then another adaptor that split the outflow into (2) 1-1/2" lines. This will maximize your rated outflow to be closer to spec.

Re bog; you can create one along one side of your pond and let the overflow create a waterfall back. It should be at least 6" above pond surface height, 12" deep minimum, filled with pea gravel. A bog is an efficient and almost-maintenance-free filter system that takes some labor to create but will last you a lifetime. The only real maintenance is pulling plants every now and then. Search for 'bog' threads here; there's lots of info. You don't need to seam the liner for the bog to your pond, though you can.

I'm not one that recommends cleaning the pond every year by emptying and power washing and refilling. Not a fan of water changes for water change sake.
 

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