5 Scares of the Water Feature World Debunked

By: Demi Fortuna & Caitlyn Winkle

Have you been wavering on whether or not to have a water feature installed? We know it’s a big decision and many factors go into making this decision. As Halloween rolls in this week, we wanted to take the fright out of water feature installation and debunk 5 scares of the water feature world!

Leaks

Leaks are an enormous concern for people who are building their first water feature, but they can rest easy. EPDM rubber and PVC liners are super strong, and very easy to work with. A couple of quick guidelines will allay any fears about liner punctures. Always use a protective layer of underlayment to keep the liner from getting punctured. It will guard against tree roots, sharp stuff underneath the liner, and even critters.

The other common way that water features leak are at the edges of waterfalls. These are very easy to detect and correct. First, to be sure water loss is coming from the stream or waterfall area, turn off the pump and see if the water still leaks down in the reservoir. if the water is stable when the pump is off, the leak’s in the waterfall. Looking for a wet spot along the edge after a couple of dry days will usually reveal the problem, which is almost always at the edge of a waterfall. In the vast majority of cases, it’s just the liner has slipped down from the force of the water and can easily be fixed.

Algae

Many people are concerned about the appearance of algae in their water features. Algae is actually a sign that the water feature is healthy. A little green fur on the sides helps keep the water clean. An excess of algae is not healthy but it is easily dealt with. Because algae growth is a sign of high nutrient levels, the easiest way to control algae in a fish pond is to cut back on the amount of food that you’re feeding your fish. In other water features, the installation of an ionizer that puts a tiny amount of ionized copper into the water will completely control algae in your water feature.

Critters

Many folks are concerned about the animals that come to a pond or water feature. Most of the time, this is a great Boon to the natural community in the area. Especially in the wintertime, sources of open water are scarce and animals have a hard time finding enough to drink. A pond or water feature that’s running in the winter is a welcome resource. Some folks worry about mosquitoes in ponds, but in a typical fish pond, mosquitoes can’t survive the hungry fish. Mosquito larvae are much more likely to come from the stagnant rainwater in an old tire than any fish pond.

Accidents

The idea that ponds and water features can be dangerous stems from an older method of constructing ponds in the shape of bowls. Slippery, sloped sides made getting in and out of this style of ponds difficult. It was easy to slip and injure oneself. Modern construction techniques advise building ponds with steps and flat platforms better making them easy to enter and exit safely. For the ultimate and safest option, Pond-free waterfalls and streams have no open water to fall into. All the water is recirculated out of a closed underground basin, limiting maintenance and chance of injury.

Maintenance

Some potential pond owners are deterred by the thought of the maintenance of a water feature. They may have heard about a poorly designed feature that was difficult to keep clean or looking good. A properly designed water feature requires very little maintenance. Fish ponds that have a balance of plants bacteria and animals require minimal maintenance. Hardscape water features with filtered or screened reservoirs require even less. When the feature is properly designed with the right equipment, maintenance takes no more than a few minutes a week, with a clean up no more than once a year.

2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference

The Third Annual Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference held last week in Cleveland Ohio was an event not to be missed.

Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water and Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic-OASE

New this year, early arrivers attended 3 hands-on business workshops focusing on Business Strategy, Social Media and Water Feature Maintenance, hosted by experts Yolanda Ortiz of Corazon Business Coaching, Melanie Downes of The Grapevine Pro and our own Sean Bell.

Hands-on business workshops hosted by Yolanda Ortiz, Melanie Downes and Sean Bell

Yolanda Ortiz returned for her second conference, presenting her new workshop Culture, Hiring and Your Bottom Line to an appreciative audience. Melanie brought her 25+ years of experience as an entrepreneur in the family landscape and water feature business to fire up attendees with exciting new takes on Marketing and Social Media. Sean Bell educated attendees on Adding Maintenance Plans to your Business, offering lucrative insights into that bread-and-butter aspect of water gardening.

Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club
Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club

Wednesday evening, after rallying at the Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg, our base of operations this year, we set off for the always beloved Pine Lake Trout Club. Jeff Weemhoff warmly welcomed attendees of the ever growing Conference, sharing his plans for the continued and accelerating expansion of Atlantic and OASE and insights into the coming year. Then we partied into the night at the beautiful timbered fishing lodge surrounded by the many streams and waterfalls, good food and drink enhancing the great networking and camaraderie.

Jeff Weemhoff and Thorsten Muck present the future of Atlantic-OASE

Thursday began early with a message from Jeff and Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water, on the bright future of Atlantic and OASE. Presentations on social media, advanced bog construction, product development, water feature estimating and distributor meeting preceded lunch, then we boarded buses and headed over to AWG headquarters.

Demi Fortuna and Brandon Dwyer at the Fountain Nozzles 101 Station

There we split into rotating groups visiting seven Demonstration Stations, showcasing the power of PondoVacs; the new Atlantic InfiColor Lighting System; automatic ScreenMatic2 filtration; tips on multiple Fountain Nozzle installation; the ease of adding FiltoClear Pressure Filters to existing ponds; programming the Easy Garden Control Cloud-based control system and a workshop on Photographing Water Features by last year’s APC of the Year Shane Hemphill.

Frayne McAtee at the Connecting to Your Water Feature Station

With heads still buzzing with all they had seen and heard, attendees were treated to a surprise stop on the ride back to the hotel. The buses pulled up and then into the huge new 170,000 sq. ft. facility, where a champagne toast accompanied the reveal of the new building. What better place to announce the 2019 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year?

Jeff Weemhoff welcomes conference attendees to the NEW Atlantic-OASE headquarters

Congratulations to TRAVIS WHITAKER – APC OF THE YEAR! With strong business growth over the past 15 years combined with excellence and creativity in water feature construction and design, Travis and Shannon Whitaker and their team are at the top of their game. A key contractor in his market, Travis has landed multiple large, high profile projects, but has continued to be a team player, helping fellow contractors when called upon in the best spirit of caring and generosity.

Whitaker Waterscapes, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor of the Year recipients Travis & Shannon Whitaker

Atlantic created a whole new award for another standout member of the Community, Matt Boring! Matt earned the Presidential Award in recognition of his constructive and helpful attitude to all in the industry, as well as the excellence of his work. His positive outlook and advice on the APC Facebook page have greatly increased the value of the group for all, while his sharing of his body of work and innovative construction projects has inspired and promoted both the industry and Atlantic. Congratulations Matt!

Texas Ponds and Water Features, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Presidential Award recipients
Matt Boring and Carlos Ordaz

Finally, in recognition of his long-standing dedication to the Water Gardening Industry and his unique standing amongst (and usually a head above) his peers, Atlantic was proud to present the Monster Award to our beloved Lloyd Lightsey. Always there to lend a helping hand, always smiling, Lloyd has always loved to make all around him smile, but he and Karrie have also dedicated their time and energy (even his beard) to the very serious challenge of raising money for cancer research. Lloyd, our Pond Monster, we salute you and Karrie for your good works and your unique standing in the industry! The award, named The Monster Award, will be given out annually moving forward.     

The Pond Monster, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Monster Award recipients Lloyd & Karrie Lightsey

After the surprise visit to the new building concluded, we spent the final evening of our wonderful time together playing and partying at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland. We thank all our attendees for another rewarding and informative Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference, and look forward to seeing you next year!

Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland
Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland

Atlantic and OASE Expand Operations

Atlantic Water Gardens and OASE Living Water are pleased to announce an important milestone in the American water gardening market. Atlantic–OASE will be moving to a much larger location in Aurora, Ohio, seven miles from the current Atlantic headquarters in Mantua. The new 170,000 square foot warehouse provides the ample space needed for the production, storage, organization and shipping of all Atlantic and OASE products, from raw materials to finished goods, to the entire hemisphere.

Our new home!

State-of-the-art SAP integration and inventory tracking will help us improve efficiency and streamline operations, ensuring that goods, materials and products flow effortlessly to our customers. Atlantic and OASE expect to capitalize on the efficiency of having all brands in one warehouse, ready to produce, pack and ship worldwide. We’re also excited about the opportunity to implement up to date, cutting-edge infrastructure and technology right from the start, no retro fitting or compromising required. 

155,000 square foot warehouse.

Over 15,000 square feet of offices, conference rooms and storage spaces, along with showrooms for immediate hands-on access to all products, will optimize day-to-day business. Multiple media rooms and a lecture center will handle small and large group interactions, while a sound room and video studio will accommodate in-house advertising, marketing and video production.  

Aurora will also house the new Training Center, including a 3,750 square foot indoor area with 30-foot ceilings already affectionately nick-named the SandBox. Instructors and contractors will be able to build entire hardscapes, dig and install every type of water feature and demonstrate lighting techniques year-round, immediately adjacent to a fully equipped classroom. Outside, there are multiple berms and hollows perfect for outdoor features training, as well as a large patio for warm weather seating. 

Make sure you follow our social media for updates on our big move!

Atlantic Professional Conference 2019

The season is upon us on Long Island. It’s getting warmer, the bulbs that we usually see in late March or April have actually bloomed – finally! Water temps are up and the koi are feeding again. Spring is springing all over, and that means…

Product Knowledge – Atlantic Professional Conference 2017

We’re starting to think about the next APC Day! Our Atlantic Professional Conference happens after Labor Day, but we start putting things together now. We have to. It takes a lot of planning to pull off. A hundred or so Contractors and Distributors from multiple countries are going to show up for a couple of days of camaraderie, networking and fun, and we don’t want to disappoint.

Pump Clean Out Station – Atlantic Professional Conference 2018

Two years ago, we hosted attendees to cocktails and dinner riverside, at the Music Box Supper Club, alongside the big ships slowly making their way to Cleveland’s deep water port. Last year we had the Cleveland Aquarium to ourselves, watching the sharks gliding overhead as we walked through the glass tunnel. (Was it just me, or did anyone else notice the fish glaring at us while we ate shrimp cocktails in front of them?) Regardless of the irony, what a great place to have a conference of water feature builders!

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Of course, we always include a night at an amazing local gem, hidden away in plain sight – the Pine Lake Trout Club. There’s something magical about the rustic Lodge and cabins, hidden away in the piney woods apparently miles from anywhere. For me, it’s all about strolling along the streams and waterfalls on a late summer evening, as the trout rise and dimple the glassy surface, enjoying the company and conversation of some of the world’s best pond and water feature builders. Dain’t much betta.

Pine Lake Trout Club – Bainbridge Township, Ohio 

This year we have a full lineup of seminars, presentations and live demonstrations planned while the sun is up – marketing, social media, coaching, water feature tech info, even a rodeo or two. Yes, rodeo. You know, when you put the beasties through their paces. ‘Nuff said on that topic, don’t wanna spoil the surprise.

Art of the Yard, Shane Hemphill and Heath Webb
2018 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year

And I’m not going to tell you where we’ll be going this year. I’m not letting that cat out of the bag – yet. You’ll have to keep checking back, or better yet – REGISTER NOW. Registration just opened, attendance is limited and we always fill up way before the cutoff in July. Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Visit: https://www.atlanticwatergardens.com/apc-day to register!

Tools That Don’t Suck – Hypath Bags

Tools That Don’t Suck

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Hypath Bags

I’m on the road a lot this time of year. It’s the only time we can get contractors and counterpeople together for training and demos. From January through March, I’m going somewhere almost every week. So far this year, I’ve been to Europe, back to Florida, up to South Carolina, over to Texas, out to Washington State, up to Vancouver BC, down to Oklahoma, with three trips to Ohio for a week each. As you would expect, that kind of schedule beats up luggage. After a great run of almost 8 years with my old TravelPro carryon, I decided this year to upgrade. I’m impressed enough with my new luggage system that I’m sharing it with you.

Versitility

The bags I found are about the most versatile I’ve seen, and I looked at a lot of bags. My requirements were pretty stringent. I needed a small carry-on, the size that meets both American and European standards. I was going to Germany on a deeply discounted fare with an airline that really restricted both size and weight, but I also like to travel as light as possible. I prefer a rollerbag, but there were going to be cobblestone streets to contend with, so I wanted a bag that could convert if needed into a backpack. I usually carry a second bag for the business docs, presentation hardware, chargers, travel sundries, etc. so when I saw the Hypath bags, I got excited.

Hypath Backpack

Easy Rolling

The Hypath bags I bought really fit the bill. The “big” bag fits into those tiny 21”x16”x9” boxes at the gates of the stingiest of air carriers. It’s made of a good grade of ripstop nylon, double stitched. compression straps inside to squeeze down enough clothing for a week to 10 days on the road.* Handles all the way around the outside make it easy to throw into the overhead storage on planes, or carry as a duffel. Wide set rollerblade wheels and a sturdy aluminum handle with positive locks allow for quiet, easy rolling. For those situations that require sprinting, there are wide padded straps hidden away under a padded backplate that convert the bag to a true backpack.

Hypath Backpack

The smaller bag is also really versatile. For the ultimate in sleek travel, it zips onto the larger bag for easy rolling as a single unit. This frees up the handle for strapping on duty-free goodies. For casual travel, two horizontal straps across the back of the bag allow it to ride the rollerbag handle in typical piggyback fashion. It also has comfortable straps for backpacking. The front compartment has partitions for cables and equipment. The roomy center has a slot that fits my laptop in its padded sleeve, with a second slot for my tablet. Plus enough additional room for the charger, a windbreaker, folders and the obligatory one-quart plastic bag for toiletries. Two outer pouches are great for bottles, a brush, phone or meds. They look pretty good too. The black bags have an attractive hexagonal pattern to the fabric, and there are reflective patches for safety.

So far just this year, I figure the bags have logged about 20,000 miles without a hitch. I’m really hoping to get the same kind of durability as the TravelPro. Even if it doesn’t hold up as well, the Hypath system has already endeared itself to me.

On the plane/train/boat
Wool sports jacket, dress shirt, black belt, jeans, Merrells
In the bag, starting from the bottom:
Compression socks – 5pr short, 1 long, underwear
1 pair jeans, 1 pair chinos
Black cotton tee, 5 work tees
Rollup windbreaker/rain coat

Building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox

We recently received a question on a previous blog: BOG FILTRATION, THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO BIOLOGICAL FILTERS. The question was:

Do you have any additional information about building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox, like shown in the graphic at the end of this blog post? You already talked a bit about the surface area of the bog compared to the pond but what about the depth and the number of blocks stacked on each other for example? 
I want to build a 15′ x 13′ pond with 3000 gallons and 9′ stream. Pond will be filled with stones and gravel, some plants and 20 goldfish (around 8″). How many blocks do I need and how do I arrange them for a fitting surface area of the filter? Do you have any recommended product to be used as tube under the blocks? Or do I have to build one myself? If so, do you have any instructions to do this?

Great question O Noble Ponderer!

Bogs are sized by surface area. 10% of the area of the pond in bog area is sufficient to consume all the nitrates a goldfish pond is likely to produce. At the other end of the scale are Koi, which need three times as much area, 30%, planted to bogs.

With 205 square feet of pond, 20 square feet of planted gravel will be sufficient. You have a 9’ stream, which simplifies matters greatly. What I would do is set one or two Eco-Blox at the top of the stream, on the existing grade on top of the stream liner. I would install two 2” or 3” flanges or bulkhead fittings on either side of the chamber thus created, down low so water enters and exits the Eco-Blox near the bottom of the block. On one side I’d attach the pipe from the pump, on the other a drain valve. Take a look at the sketch.

Water comes from the skimmer into the Eco-Blox on one side, flows up and out through a 4-6” layer of ¾-1” gravel on top planted to various low grasses or other aquatic plants, which are also planted in the gravel of the stream. The Eco-Blox under the gravel acts as a settling chamber. The outlet on the side opposite the inlet is valved. The valve is buried near the flange or bulkhead fitting, attached to a piece of pipe out to daylight somewhere.

I usually just set an 18” length of 4” pipe vertically over the valve so the handle can be accessed periodically to drain out the muck which will accumulate in the chamber. If I can’t reach the valve with my hand, I’ll slot the end of a pipe to create a wrench to turn the handle. This is necessary usually only once or twice a year.

You’ll have a great little active bog filter that uses the top of Eco-Blox chamber plus the stream to provide the necessary area for plantings. Plus a built-in settling chamber that will remove much of the suspended organic debris constantly and automatically. You may also consider adding a bottom drain to the skimmer, to pick up the rest of the debris. But that’s the subject of another post.

Where in the World was Demi Fortuna?

“Where in the world is Demi Fortuna???” With these oft-repeated words the Chief, Jeff Weemhoff, begins the challenging and never-ending search for Fortuna’s whereabouts.

Reports indicate that early on the morning of February 15th Fortuna furtively fled across the border at 2am, arriving at the base of operations that co-conspirator and partner in nefarious deeds Scooter Stevenson had prepared. The mission: they would demolish the top tiers of existing wall work, inserting Spouts and Spillways and then, in mere hours, rebuild the walls, newly retrofitted with water and light, at two iconic locations well-known to those familiar with such deeds. Day one saw the speedy and surreptitious insertion of Atlantic Wall Spouts fitted with Color Changing Spout Lights flanking a Spillway superior in Surrey.

At the same location, the fabled Jade Triplets of Barry now gurgled over a Fountain Basin, when previously they pined piteously in a pool of putrescence. Below on the slope, a Pond-free waterfall once again flowed to the amazement of contractors who had only recently been liberated from the plow. The snow plow, that is. After a few brief hours, their task was done. Water and Light had been added to the Hardscape, swiftly and silently. The contractors, impressed by profitable possibilities, applauded while Fortuna and Stevenson faded into the twilight.

The second day of demolition dawned dry, at a quiet nook once bereft of sound and movement. Soon sprung stately and sparkling a curved corner complete with three brass Spouts, to the Turkish Delight of two Ottoman Ambassadors Omar and Dogan and the lovely Lady of Landscape Dianne. In a mere 3 hours on the clock the curved corner had been crowned, complete, as the contractors contemplated the collection of copious coin. Then the deadly duo departed, depleted but delighted, Scooter scooting across the waves to his queenly island fortress, Fortuna to the fabled Rain City, carpeted with a copious cover of snow. With over a foot of frozen fallout, the greatest total since 1923, this normally wet wonderland was white and wintry, which only added charm to the frozen waterfalls and majestic redwoods of the VD Gardens. Where in the world was Demi Fortuna?

Atlantic Cord Seal Fitting

A great new way to hide power cords!

Even the nicest water feature installation can be ruined if the cord for a pump or a light is visible, as they often are. Power cords should be removable, so that lights or pumps can be serviced or eventually replaced. They can’t just be buried away in concrete. With open reservoir water features, like ceramic vases or copper basins, a hole in the reservoir that’s big enough to pass a plug is hard to seal, and cutting the plug off voids the warranty on pumps and lights.

Wouldn’t it be great if a power cord could pass through the same bulkhead fitting that the water feeds through? Without leaking? That way, a light could be set inside the reservoir without a cord draping over the edge, or a pump cord inside a basin could pass through a plumbing fitting, virtually invisible. But, even if you ran a cord inside a pipe from inside the reservoir, how would you get it back outside of the pipe, outside of the reservoir?

Atlantic Cord Seal Fitting

Enter the CSF. The Cord Seal Fitting is a nifty gadget that addresses that particular need, to pass a cord through the wall of a reservoir inside the fitting or pipe that is the reservoir’s only perforation. It works much like a plumbing pressure test plug. A rubber gasket squeezed between two plates expands outwards and seals off a 1-1/2″ female socket. But, unlike a test plug, the rubber doughnut is slit to its center to accept a standard light or pump cord. The plates on either side of the gasket are also split, to assemble around the cord and gasket like the cookies around the creme of an Oreo. When tightened, the rubber expands tightly around the cord and into the fitting, creating a waterproof seal.

As is often the case, the Cord Seal Fitting is far easier to use than to describe. Install a tee in the 1-1/2″ waterline feeding the reservoir and pass the cord through the tee and into the reservoir. Loosen the plates on the CSF, slide the cord into the gasket, reattach the plates and tighten the CSF in the opening of the tee. The gasket will expand and seal against the cord and the inner walls of the tee.

The CSF will also allow the cord to pass in and out of a sealed section of pipe, with the addition of a second tee. This is useful where a pump may be hard piped from the inside of a reservoir, out through a bulkhead fitting and up to a spillway. The illustration to the right shows the pump cord passing out of the reservoir through tees through a tee installed on either side of the bulkhead fitting and sealed with Cord Seal Fittings inside and out.

Another great solution from the folks at Atlantic!

OASE Living Water Acquires Atlantic Water Gardens

 

Hörstel (October 8, 2018) – OASE Living Water (“OASE”) continues its strategy for growth and today announced the acquisition of US-based Atlantic Water Gardens (“Atlantic”), a leading supplier of innovative outdoor water feature products and systems to the North American market. Headquartered in Hörstel, Germany, OASE is the global market leader in water gar-dening products, offering a suite of products that enable the creation of tranquil, inviting out-door oases, from simple to elaborate. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. 

Atlantic Water Gardens has a 30-year history of supplying professional grade water feature products to landscape contractors through distribution channels in the US, Canada and Mex-ico. As part of the OASE Group, Atlantic will gain access to the worldwide landscape construc-tion market. Atlantic is the perfect fit to OASE’s product portfolio and will enhance the range of products OASE sells worldwide. By the same token, OASE’s PRO Line, which is geared to-ward the expert user, will now be available to the professional market in North America. 

“We have been collaborating with European landscapers for years and see an opportunity to build on this experience with professional contractors in the North American market,” said Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE. “We are excited about this expansion as it gives us the oppor-tunity to work with the highly respected and talented team at Atlantic. Their product range and expertise will enhance our ability to serve an even broader range of customers world-wide.” 

“Joining forces with OASE will provide excellent channels to deliver our state-of-the-art water features to landscapers beyond North America. What’s more, OASE’s wide range of premium water gardening equipment is highly complementary to Atlantic’s systems and projects,” said Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic Water Gardens. “We look forward to providing OASE’s cutting edge, German-engineered technology to our clientele. Together, we will create the most innovative and comprehensive water gardening business in North America.” Weemhoff added, “Whether the beginning hobbyist or the professional landscaper – by reaching out to a more diverse base of water garden enthusiasts, our goal is to transform and inspire the North American water gardening industry.” 

Company information: 

About OASE Living Water: 

Headquartered in Hörstel, Germany, OASE has more than 700 employees worldwide and pro-duction facilities in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and China, doing business in two seg-ments: 

  • The Consumer Business Unit (Water Gardens, Indoor Aquatics, Drainage & Irrigation) is focused on pumps, filters and equipment for private ponds, swim ponds, water courses and water features with proven success for decades. As the world market leader in this segment, OASE is a benchmark for innovation and quality. Through vari-ous acquisitions, OASE has expanded its activities, most notably into the field of indoor aquatics. The Company also recently launched its drainage & irrigation line. 
  • The Commercial Business Unit (Fountain Technology and Lake Management) has de-signed and executed countless large-scale projects worldwide. Recent projects include the floating fountain at DaMing Lake (China) and the Unirii Square in Bucharest (Roma-nia). 

About Atlantic Water Gardens: 

Headquartered in Mantua, Ohio, Atlantic Water Gardens is a leading supplier of branded con-sumer water gardening products in North America. Atlantic manufactures and markets a full array of water gardening products in a variety of channels of trade with a heavy focus on the landscaping and contractors business in the US, Canada and Mexico. The Company has a strong engineering capability enabling it to bring innovative, new products to market ahead of industry trends. 

For more information about Oase or the transaction, contact: 

Thorsten Muck
CEO OASE Group
+49 5454 80 240
t.muck@oase-livingwater.com 

The CICY Project – From Orchids to Cenotes Part 2

The first hurdle was the design. As is common in this part of the world, the architect had specified a smooth sided shallow concrete basin that looked and worked liked a swimming pool, with standard swimming pool pumps, tiny skimmers, a sand filter and pool returns. The problem? This was a lily pond surrounded by overhanging trees, in a public botanical garden with a shortage of help. We wouldn’t be able to count on anyone coming more than once a week, at best. Pool skimmers were not designed to handle the hundreds of leaves falling every day into the pool, and would have to be cleaned daily, as would the baskets of external pumps. No chlorine means algae in the water, which sand filters just don’t deal with well, and daily backwashing was out of the question. We needed circulation and filtration designed for ponds.

We decided on a huge PS15000 Skimmer with an oversize net that could handle being cleaned only once a week, plumbed to a bottom drain to add flow and improve circulation. The Skimmer would accommodate two high efficiency TT9000 submersible pumps, pushing 16000 gallons per hour for only 1100 watts. One of the pumps would supply a BF3800 biological filter stuffed with Matala filter mats, to trap sediment and provide substrates for the bacteria that would convert fish wastes to plant food. The other pump would fill a chamber made of Eco-Blox water matrix blocks set on grade, capped with four inches of gravel, that would overflow to create the waterfalls. The idea behind the Eco-Blox chamber was simple, but revolutionary. All the sediments pumped into the chamber would settle out before they could flow up through the gravel. Plants set without any soil in the gravel layer on top of the chamber would extract the nitrates in the water for their survival, starving out any algae that would otherwise flourish in the pond. Because the blocks were set on grade, a simple drain at the bottom of the chamber would flush out accumulated sediments just by opening a valve, cutting maintenance of the chamber to 10 minutes once a season.

Now that we had a workable, low maintenance solution that would handle the debris of a tropical lily pond, we could work on the design. Luckily for us, our inspiration was right around the corner. Dzibilchaltún (zee-bee-chal-TOON) was an ancient Mayan city built around a cenote (say-NO-tay), or fresh water sinkhole, that has provided water for drinking and bathing for 6000 years. Two hundred feet across and mostly only three to four feet deep, the bottom drops to 145 feet under the eastern rim, the depths visible every afternoon as the western sun slants down into the crystalline waters 15 stories down. Best of all, the center of the cenote is filled with native water lilies, in bloom when we visited. It was a sign!

We would build a cenote in the gardens of CICY.

 

Read the first post of “The CICY Project” here.

 


 About the Author:
Demi is the Direct of Product Information for Atlantic Water GardensDEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.