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Hydrotechnology CI/SfB 998

Technical Bulletin



Few designers have the time that is necessary to master the intricacies of designing
water features and so they have to rely upon performance specifications to convey their
wishes. Unfortunately these are of little value as they are almost impossible to enforce.
This bulletin is intended to help designers and end users to define their requirements
with precision. This is a briefing document and should be treated as such. Each topic
covered in this bulletin is a complex subject in itself. All technical matters, particularly
those of an electrical nature, need to be resolved by a qualified person in a way that
reflects local regulations. However, with the aid of this publication nozzles, spillways,
flow rates, and pipe sizes can be accurately defined.

When designing a water feature it is important to anticipate maintenance problems, to

use high quality materials, and not to be overly complex. If a feature is not well
designed and constructed it will become a burden rather than an asset. An adequate Fig 1 In still conditions water will
budget is important as good quality materials are always expensive. Experimentation spread outwards by half the distance
that it travels upwards
is an important part of any creative design process. The feasibility of all key compo-
nents should be demonstrated before construction commences.

The factors which need to be considered when designing a feature are:-

the climate
the setting
the scale
the nature of the required effect
the maximum acceptable noise level
the standard of cleanliness that is required
the accuracy required of the water level control system
the problems that wind will cause
the availability of water
the risk of vandalism
the budget
Fig 2 Water will splash forward by a
quarter to a half the height of a rough
2 SETTING AND SCALE wall depending upon its angle and
surface characteristics
When designing a water feature it is important to pay attention to all aspects of the
environment in which it is to be placed. For example, sun angles are particularly
important in urban areas as water in permanent shade can appear very cold. Close to
tall buildings turbulent down-draughts can lift water directly from an unbroken surface.
These down-draughts usually preclude the use of reflective pools in urban locations.
A feature should always be in scale with its surroundings. Often the desire not to lose
development space overrides the need to create a feature of adequate size. It is bet-
ter not to have a feature than one which is too small. It is also important to anticipate
the activities that are to take place adjacent to any feature. For example, in a crowded
shopping mall a feature has to either cover a large area or be well over two meters
(6 ft 6 in) tall if it is to be seen from a distance.

The water spray from a vertical jet will usually spread outwards by at least half the
distance that it travels upwards (fig 1). This is a rule which can only be improved upon
by employing a very short burst effect in which the rising water does not collide with
the falling water. In external locations the radius of a pool should at least equal the
height of the effect which it is to contain. In exposed locations the display will need to
be lowered or the pool size increased by 20% for every 1m/s (2.2mph) increase in the
prevailing wind speed above 2.5m/s (5.5mph). An external feature should always
have a wind activated control system, particularly if it is close to a building.
Anemometers should be mounted in a representative location as close to the feature Fig 3 Circular pools can surge up
as possible e.g. on top of an adjacent lamp post or flag pole. and down if nozzles are used which
discharge below water
When water runs down a vertical surface the amount of spray which it creates
depends upon the physical characteristics of that surface. Water which passes down
a very rough surface can spread forward almost half the height of the wall (fig 2). This
contrasts with polished stone or glass, both of which will hold water in close contact
with their surface. The spread of water is surprisingly small when it is dropped as a
free falling curtain in a sheltered location. However, any curtain or wall of water is
susceptible to the effect of wind so an anemometer and / or a remote switch should
always be provided in external locations.

Around natural lakes the ground should slope gently to the water particularly if the
area is to be used for storm water balancing. Paving should fall away from formal
pools so that rain does not wash debris into the feature. The paving should fall to Fig 4 If the water is to be flush with
drainage channels so that any water which is accidentally lost from the system can be its surroundings then a tanked
safely disposed of. During very cold weather some pools will need to be drained recessed channel is needed to avoid
down. Such features must be designed to be vandal proof and attractive when empty. tracking under finishes

Water will generate white noise when it is agitated. This can be useful if it masks
conversations or mechanical noise. In most retail locations the background noise level
is so high that the sound of water is seldom noticed and may even be welcomed.
However, in a quiet reception area even a small amount of noise can be disturbing. In
such locations features need to be designed carefully with fine low volume displays.
Noise levels can be reduced by placing energy absorbing mats just above the water to
reduce splashing. Alternatively, air can be mechanically entrained to reduce the
density of the water both in the effect and within the feature itself, which in turn serves
to reduce noise levels.

Fig 5 Complete circulation is
important if the water is to remain
High winds can produce waves over 300mm (1 ft) high on a lake only one hundred
clean (option 1) metres (110 yds) across. Powerful fountain nozzles can also produce waves. Circular
pools may surge up and down if nozzles are used which initially discharge below the
surface (fig 3). If pools at different levels are linked together then the lowest pool will
receive any water which runs back when the feature is shut down. If the lowest pool is
not large enough to receive all the water then a hidden tank must be provided. When
calculating the size of a fall back tank, or the lowest pool in a series, it is prudent to
assume that any non-return valves in the pumping system will fail to close. Positioning
the inlets to the higher pools above the surface avoids the problem of water draining
back through the supply pipework when the pumps are turned off.

To ensure that water does not escape over the top of a membrane a minimum
freeboard of 150mm (6 in) is to be recommended. With a quiet feature this can be
reduced to 75mm (3 in). The risk of capillary action behind decorative finishes can be
avoided by close bonding. If water is to appear flush with an adjacent surface then a
drained channel needs to be recessed into the floor around the feature to avoid water
tracking back under the finishes (fig 4).

Fig 6 Complete circulation is

important if the water is to remain 5 RIGID STRUCTURES
clean (option 2)
Water bodies are inherently stable and only circulate slowly of their own volition.
Water will always take the shortest route and this fact must be reflected in the overall
plumbing configuration. Water should be introduced and drawn off in a way that en-
sures full turnover (fig 5 & 6). Underwater jets pointing towards or away from the outer
walls will help to minimise the accumulation of floating debris and greasy deposits,
particularly in corners (fig 7). The base of a pool should always be laid to a fall of at
least 2 to a drainage point or sump to facilitate sweeping. Channel bottoms can also
be laid to falls to keep debris moving (table 1).

In urban locations it is advisable to minimise the depth of water so as to shorten main-

tenance periods and for reasons of safety. The industry standard water depth for a
decorative pool is 400mm (16 in). This depth is sufficient to cover most lights and
nozzles. With a freeboard of 150mm the base of a pool will still be less than 600mm
below its surroundings. It is not usual to provide safety rails for a drop of less than
600mm (2 ft) so this establishes the normal edge profile. If there is a requirement for
Fig 7 Water can be bled out below a large nozzles then sumps can be formed in the base of a pool (fig 8). To avoid clutter
nozzle to keep the corners clean and the possibility of vandalism cable ducts and supply pipes should be set into the
base of the pool, below the finishes, and not left exposed on the surface.

As water freezes so it expands. This force can crack rigid structures, lift finishes and
split pipework. Water trapped behind decorative finishes may force them away from
their backing as it freezes so full bonding is necessary. If water is to remain in a pool
during freezing conditions it may be necessary to have gently sloping sides which will
Fig 8 A sump can be formed to allow the ice to slide upwards. A feature must be designed so that it looks attractive
accommodate large nozzles when it is switched off or drained down. A simple bed of cobbles can make an empty
pool look attractive in the middle of Winter. Alternatively a pool can be covered with
Table 1 Silt movement over a paving so that it looks like a piazza when it is out of commission.
flat concrete bed
flow rate silt movement When a feature is close to or within a building it must be completely watertight. If a
0.075m/s no silt movement pool consists of a single concrete structure it may not need lining but this is seldom the
0.125m/s slight movement when case. Day work joints usually mean that a membrane is required. Liquid rubber or
disturbed but settling later bitumen based paints can be used to seal small cracks. Liquid applied systems are
0.150m/s big conglomerations of cheap but they usually fail within a few years. Some liquid systems are reinforced in-
algae starting to move
0.300m/s silt moving well, large
situ with fibreglass, polypropylene or polyethylene mat to increase their resilience.
inorganic material There are a range of sheet materials which are good for tanking but these cannot
stationary support a decorative finish without a rigid internal structure. GRP (glass reinforced
1.000m/s usual speed required for plastic) or fibreglass is a useful material as it has structural properties of its own. It is
mass flow in sewers
expensive but can carry decorative finishes particularly if the surface is textured with
crushed flint or silver sand. All membranes should be electronically and / or flood
tested before decorative finishes are applied. All penetrations need to be carefully de-
tailed as most leaks occur at these points.


The surfaces within a feature must be easy to clean and not affected by water. In ex-
ternal locations sunlight and freeze thaw cycles put an additional stress on finishes. At
the waterline they must be particularly durable as this is where environmental condi-
tions are at their most extreme and where deposits accumulate. Pool walls should be
finished with smooth materials which are easy to clean. Horizontal surfaces may ben-
efit from having some texture as it will improve traction, although rough surfaces will
present maintenance problems.

Historically marble was used for water features because it was widely available and
easy to work. Unfortunately, its surface dissolves quickly particularly when the water
has a low pH or is treated with aggressive chemicals such as chlorine. Sandstone and Fig 9 Decorative finishes can be
fixed to a wall of engineering bricks
limestone should be avoided as they absorb water. If natural stone is to be used then
to avoid penetrating the membrane
the best material is granite. Terrazo should never be used as the pigments, which
provide much of its colour, are denatured by halogens and acids. High quality glazed
ceramic tiles are durable and much cheaper than stone.

It is important to select the right colour for a feature. Dark blues, dark greys and black
are usually best as they give the water an illusion of depth, and contrast with the
effects on the surface. Browns and yellows should be avoided as they tend to make
the water look dirty. Greens should be approached with caution as they often look
artificial and clash with adjacent vegetation. Uniform colours highlight imperfections
and make debris more apparent so patterned or dappled finishes are to be preferred.

Fixing through membranes, for example to support natural stone slabs, is not to be
recommended. Thoughtful detailing often allows vertical stone panels to be fixed at
the top whilst the bottoms are retained by the floor. If large, complex or heavy panels
are to be used then an engineering brick wall can be built in front of the membrane to
receive mechanical fixings (fig 9). All mechanical fixings must be made from stainless
steel. Bedding layers under finishes should either be pure epoxy based (not epoxy ce-
ment) and preferably flexible rubber compounds. Under no circumstances should Fig 10 To establish a smooth flow of
conventional cementatious mortars be used. Lime is easily leached from them and will water it is necessary to have a
form white deposits along the joints in the finishes. Eventually the finishes will lift. discharge trough which is fitted with
Joints can be filled with silicone or polysulphide jointing compounds. The surfaces baffles
which are to be bonded should be abraded, degreased, and primed before the sealant
is applied. Care should be taken to colour co-ordinate joint fillers with adjacent


Water can descend vertically in a number of ways. If flows are limited or splashing
needs to be controlled, then water can be run down a smooth surface such as glass or
polished granite. The maximum length of a sheet of glass is normally 6m. A top fixing
with a bottom restraint avoids distortion. The glass will need to be laminated or pre-
ferably armoured. Perspex can be used but is flammable. However, there are other
Fig 11 A typical nozzle arrangement
similar plastics which are fire resistant. Water can be jetted onto a vertical surface via for a linear droplet curtain
small downward pointing nozzles mounted at 45 to and 15mm away from it. How-
ever, a perfectly uniform film can only be formed if the water is fed gently onto the
surface. This means using a discharge trough with baffles (fig 9 & 10). It is important Table 2 Water flow rates over
to avoid irregularities in the surface of the wall as these may cause splashing. Nega- different weirs for waterfalls,
tive steps have little effect but even the smallest positive step will throw water forward cascades and overflows. Note -
depths measured at the spillway
(fig 9). Very fine square grooves, 6 x 6mm deep and 6mm apart, can be used to re-
tard the flow down a wall and so create a slow wave effect without splashing. In this sharp lightly smooth
case a smooth initial flow is important and surface tension needs to be reduced. To metal textured metal
edge wide edge wide edge
create a white water effect the surface needs to be rough. Granite or marble can be
flame textured but this only makes a small difference. A coarse effect can be achieved flow depth depth depth
l/s/m mm mm mm
by sawing the surface of a slab of stone into parallel ridges which are then broken off.
Exposed aggregate concrete offers a cheap way to produce a rough surface. A 1 4.5 3.5 2.5
2 8.0 6.5 4.5
textured surface will need to be inclined at 3 to 5 from the vertical if water is to
3 11 8.6 6.5
remain in close contact with it. No matter how rough the surface the water will not run 4 14 10 8.0
white until it has accelerated over a distance of 200mm (8 in). 5 16 12 9.5
10 27 21 16
A large free-falling waterfall is always impressive. When water falls it drags air with it. 15 35 29 23
A continuous curtain of falling water just in front of a wall creates a negative pressure 20 43 36 29
behind it, which in turn tries to draw it back to the wall. A large gap behind the curtain 30 57 48 39
allows air to enter from the sides. Spillways need to be smooth to minimise friction 40 70 58 48
50 81 68 57
otherwise the upper and lower surfaces of the flow will move at different speeds. This
60 91 78 66
predisposes the water to curl back on itself and to break up. If the last part of a spill- 70 101 88 75
way is almost vertical then the water will be drawn backwards. Spillways can be made
from concrete but the best effects are achieved with metal or polished stone. A sharp
vertical or horizontal metal strip can produce a curtain but the effect tends to be unsta-
ble, irregular and more water is required than is necessary. Ideally a spillway should
have a horizontal component to stabilise the flow, and then change to an inclined
surface to accelerate the water. With a lightly textured material an acceleration slope
angle of 15 will just suffice (fig 12). However, the best solution is a metal or polished
stone spillway with a forward angle of between 30 and 45 to the horizontal, which
serves to throw the water forward (fig 13). The depth of water which is required to
pass over different spillways can be calculated from tables 3 and 4, and for other ac-
tivities from table 2. For example, to determine the flow required for a 3m long
Fig 12 The optimum stone spillway waterfall which is 2.5m high over a metal spillway use table 4. This shows that a drop
profile of 2500mm needs 20mm of water to flow over the spillway. From tables 2 or 4 it can
be seen that this means a flow of approximately 13 l/s/m. The width of 3m is then
multiplied by 13 l/s/m to give a flow rate of 39 l/s. To reduce the cost of a spillway it
can be limited to an inclined lip bolted to an upstand (fig 14). Such a lip is classified as
Table 3 Flow rates for waterfalls a sharp edge when calculating flow rates (table 2).
with a lightly textured stone spill-
way As a curtain of water falls it accelerates and stretches until it finally breaks up. The
height width slope depth flow
greater the drop the greater the depth of water which needs to pass over the spillway
h w s d rate for the curtain to maintain its integrity. Even so it is almost impossible to create a
mm mm mm mm l/s/m perfect unblemished sheet more than 2m high. On a windy site the chance of
500 100 - 150 30 10 04 producing a pure curtain is reduced and so greater flows are required. When there is
1200 125 - 175 45 15 06 a series of pools linked by pure curtains of water the turbulence from one may disturb
2000 150 - 200 55 20 09 the flow over the next. Baffles placed before each spillway will overcome this problem.
2500 175 - 225 65 25 12
3000 200 250 75 30 15 If the supply of water is limited or noise is a problem then the flow can be divided into
3500 225 - 275 85 35 19 fingers. A block of falling water droplets can also be striking, particularly if it is strongly
4000 250 - 300 100 40 23 lit from below (fig 11). The advantage of the latter system is that the water lands very
4500 275 - 325 125 45 28 precisely within a small area.
5000 300 - 350 150 50 32


Stepped cascades offer an attractive way to handle water over a short vertical
distance. The patterns can range from a fine castelated chequer board to large steps.
The larger the steps the greater the flow that is required (fig 15 & table 5). For the
best results the width of each step should be 1.0 to 1.25 times that of its height. In
general the flow over the first step should be 10% of the height of the steps. A mini-
mum water depth of 10mm is usually needed to accommodate possible errors in level.
A slight back-fall on each horizontal step will even out the effect as it encourages
some lateral movement. In windy locations greater flows are required. There is little
visual effect on the first step. Only by the third step is full turbulence achieved. Turbu-
Fig 13 The optimum metal spillway lence, which is generated by fountains splashing above a cascade, can overcome this
profile problem. With angular features additional water must flow over external corners to
ensure a uniform effect because water does not readily move sideways.

Table 4 Flow rates for waterfalls 9 ROCKWORK

with a smooth metal or polished
stone spillway There are many ways in which it is possible to create rockwork. The one way which
height width slope depth flow will not create a good effect is to use natural stone as peoples perception of what is
h w s d rate natural is very different to reality. A basic effect can be achieved by applying a sand
mm mm mm mm l/s/m
cement render to a steel mesh which is fixed to a frame or armature. However, the
500 100 - 150 30 05 02 quality of the final product is very workmanship dependent. The best effect is achieved
1200 125 - 175 45 10 05 by taking a silicone rubber mould from a natural rock surface and spraying glass
2000 150 - 200 55 15 10 reinforced cement (GRC) onto it. The resultant panels are secured to a metal frame.
2500 175 - 225 65 20 13 The backs of the panels are then packed with mortar. Finally the joints are
3000 200 250 75 25 16 filled with mortar which is worked insitu until it blends with the adjacent panels. The
3500 225 - 275 85 30 20 effect is brought to life by spraying with diluted UV stable emulsion paint. Individual
4000 250 - 300 100 35 25 points of interest, such as algae and lichen, are then added by hand.
4500 275 - 325 125 40 30
5000 300 - 350 150 45 36 Pebbles and cobbles are frequently used in conjunction with water. Below water they
can be very attractive but when dry they appear uniformly light and featureless. A per-
manent wet look can be achieved by coating them with epoxy resin. Epoxy bonding is
vital in areas where there is any chance of vandalism, such as in shopping malls.
Although simple in theory the practice needs a scientific approach. The aggregates must
be clean and dry, and the chemicals correctly handled if the end product is to endure.


Water is a corrosive material particularly if it contains chemicals such as halogens or

salts. As a result the only metal which should be used underwater for permanent fit-
tings is medium grade stainless steel (BS 316 L or BS 304 L). Plastic pipework is
Fig 14 A minimal sharp edge metal ideally suited for use with water features. However, it is potentially flammable and in
spillway public areas stainless steel pipework may have to be used. Stainless steel is not
indestructible and can become embrittled if used incorrectly. Condensation readily
forms on stainless steel pipework so lagging is necessary. Such lagging usually
needs to be fireproof. Stainless steel pipework, when filled with water, can donate
electrons to mild steel structures. For this reason stainless steel pipes should be elec-
trically insulated from the structure which provides them with support.

Bronze and gun metal are easy to work and are widely used for luminaires and
nozzles. They should not be used for components which might affect the integrity of a
waterproof membrane. Plastic coated mild steel pipes can be used to carry water, but
they corrode rapidly if their surface layer is damaged. Mild steel and galvanised steel
pipes corrode very quickly and should never be used. For the same reason aluminium
Fig 15 A typical section through a
is not appropriate for use in water features. Metals which are used underwater are hard stepped cascade
to colour as most paints absorb water and eventually peel off. Powder coating is the
only reliable way to apply colour to underwater components. Stainless steel can be
surface coloured using an electrolytic process, but the effect is very variable. Table 5 Flow rates for stepped
width height depth flow
mm mm mm l/s/m
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and uPVC (un-plasticised polyvinyl chloride) 100 - 200 100 15 6
pipes are widely used for water features. ABS has the advantage of being more 150 - 250 150 20 9
flexible at low temperatures than uPVC. If the ground is likely to settle then MDPE 200 - 300 200 25 12
(medium density polyethylene) pipework, with fusion welded joints, is more appropri- 250 - 400 200 - 250 30 15
ate. Pipes are available in several wall thicknesses but the abuse to which they are 300 - 450 225 - 300 40 23
subjected during installation means that only the heaviest grade should be used. There 300 - 450 300 - 450 50 32
are complex tables and calculations for designing plumbing systems, but for
general guidance figure 16 can be used for ABS and MDPE pipes, and figure 17 for
uPVC pipes The theoretical output of a system should be increased by 20% to pro-
vide flexibility and to accommodate unavoidable losses. The velocity of the water, as it
passes along a pipe, should not exceed 2m/s, or 2.5m/s at the most, otherwise
cavitation, hammer and erosion may occur.

If pipes are to be buried then they should be laid on a sand bed, covered with sand and
marked with tape. Pipes need to be laid at least 750mm (2 ft 6 in) deep to protect
them against freezing conditions. Under roads or in localities which are prone to
severe frosts the depth of cover should be increased. Drain down points should be
provided in the lowest parts of a system. Above ground pipes need to be supported at

internal flow flow hydraulic internal flow flow hydraulic

diameter rate velocity gradient diameter rate velocity gradient
in mm in l/s in m/s m/100m in mm in l/s in m/s m/100m

Fig 16 Flow diagram for ABS & MDPE pipework Fig 17 Flow diagram for uPVC pipework
Plate 1 Flame textured granite slabs with Plate 2 Water on a finely slotted metal slab Plate 3 A slab of exposed aggregate
a smooth bullnose overlap will produce a slow wavelike effect concrete will produce a white water effect

Plate 4 The best spillways are formed in Plate 5 A good spillway consists of a Plate 6 Water will splash forward from a
metal and in particular stainless steel horizontal element and an inclined take-off rough surface

Plate 7 Water can be thrown forward after Plate 8 A vertical end to a spillway will Plate 9 With a series of waterfalls the
being accelerated cause the water to be drawn backwards turbulence must be suppressed at each stage

Plate 10 Only by the third step of a Plate 11 The external corners of a cascade Plate 12 Fountain turbulence above a
cascade does the water fully break up will stay dry as water does not flow sideways cascade will animate the top two steps
Plate 13 As water falls it stretches until it Plate 14 A curtain can be formed from Plate 15 A block of falling water droplets will
breaks fingers of water sparkle particularly if it is well lit

Plate 16 Artificial rock panels are formed by Plate 17 Moulded artificial rockwork can Plate 18 Emulsion paint can be used to add
spraying GRC on to silicone rubber moulds look very natural colour to artificial rockwork

Plate 19 Black granite is ideal for pools as it Plate 20 A thin film of water can be used Plate 21 A thin layer of water, running down
highlights any effects produced in the water to enliven a decorative surface a glass sheet, will produce a fast wave effect

Plate 22 Dappled colours can be used to Plate 23 A lake, which is only 2.5 m deep, Plate 24 A plant room needs to be large and
disguise irregularities in the base of a pool can be ecologically stable well planned
regular intervals. The distance between supports depends upon the type, size and
grade of pipe to be used, and the temperature of the fluid which is to be carried. ABS
and uPVC pipes are usually supported at 1800mm intervals for a 110mm (4 in) pipe
down to 1100mm for a 32mm (1 in) pipe. Before commissioning all pipework should
be tested to at least twice the theoretical maximum pressure to which it could be
subjected. To facilitate testing all major sections of pipework must be capable of being
isolated. This usually means providing flanged connections that can receive blanking
plates. It must be possible to drain down pipework in Winter and for maintenance.
This may necessitate the provision of drain down points. If a pipe passes through a
fire barrier it must be fitted with an intumescent collar if it is more than 50mm (2 in) in

Threaded connections should never be used to join pipes made from different
materials, eg. metal to plastic. Only flanges or composite connectors should be used
Fig 18 The main features of a full
for this purpose. Bolted flanges offer the best way of joining sections of pipework to-
faced drilled flange gether (fig 18 & tables 6 & 7). When a pipe passes through a slab it normally does so
via a puddle flange. This is usually taken to mean a short length of tube with a flange
at its centre through which a pipe can pass. However, if flanges and / or sockets are
Table 6 Flanges drilled to table fitted to the ends of a puddle flange then it can form an active part of the plumbing sys-
D (up to 100 lb/in2) and table E tem as well as providing a fixing point for nozzles, luminaires etc. The points at which
(up to 200 lb/in2) pipes pass through a membrane are where most leaks occur. Where possible
size OD PCD holes drill
membranes should be clamped, with a neoprene gasket and backing ring, to a flange
which is fully welded to a puddle flange (fig 19). Threaded sealing rings should be
1/2 095 067 4 15 used with caution as they can twist the membrane as they are tightened with the result
3/4 105 073 4 15 that a seal is not achieved. Also water can track along a thread. Pipes which pass
1 115 083 4 15 through concrete or soil embankments should bear puddle flanges to prevent
11/4 140 088 4 15 seepage. A pipe, which is laid in soil, should be stabilised with a block of concrete at
11/2 150 098 4 15 the point where it passes through a flexible membrane.
2 165 115 4 18
3 200 146 4 18 There are a number of valves which are available for controlling the flow of water
4E 220 178 8 18 through pipes. For manual control there are gate valves, which are usually formed in
4D 220 178 4 18 brass or steel, and ball valves or butterfly valves which are usually formed in metal
6 286 235 8 22 and plastic. Plastic diaphragm valves can be used for very precise control. To
8 337 292 8 22 automate systems electric actuators can be bolted onto ball or butterfly valves. These
are easy to install but prone to fail when subjected to a large number of cycles. Only
the most rugged should be selected. Pneumatic actuators are far more durable but
Table 7 Flanges drilled to NP10
need a compressor and a complex pneumatic control system. Hydraulically activated
& NP16 (for a nominal pressure diaphragm valves are useful but can be difficult to calibrate. These use the same ba-
of 10 bar & 16 bar) sic principle as a solenoid valve where a difference in pressure, either side of a rubber
diaphragm, is used to change its shape and so the rate of flow. No commonly available
size OD PCD holes drill motorised or solenoid valves are suitable for extended use in a wet environment.
1/2 095 065 4 14
3/4 105 075 4 14
1 115 085 4 14 12 PLANT ROOMS
11/4 140 100 4 18
11/2 150 110 4 18 A plant room will usually contain most but not all of the following items of equipment:-
2 165 125 4 18
3 200 160 8 18 a. main pump(s)
4 220 180 8 18 b. main pump strainer(s)
6 285 240 8 22
c. manifold with valves
8 340 295 12 22
d. filter pump(s) with integral strainer
e. sand or cartridge filter
f. ultra violet steriliser (usually for fish and / or plants)
g. biological filter (for fish and / or plants only)
h. acid or alkali dosing pump and tank
i. sterilising compound diluter, or dosing pump and tank
j. water softener or deionising unit
k. break tank and pressure set
l. control panel
m. drain or drainage sump with pump(s)
n. ventilation fan
o. frost protection heater and frost-stat
p. air compressor for special effects

Inside or immediately adjacent to a building it is advisable to treat the water with

chemicals to prevent the growth of micro-organisms. It is also important to remove
fine debris from the water. This can be done by passing the water through a pleated
cartridge filter or preferably a sand filter. The water treatment system must operate
continuously and should be independent to the display pump(s). In a multi-level system
the filtered water can be used to replace that which leaks past non-return valves when
the main pump(s) is inoperative. If the feature is at several levels or if there is a need
to have an uncluttered pool then it may be necessary to have a hidden fall back tank.
Such a tank will need to accommodate several cubic metres of water (fig 21).

Fig 19 A puddle flange detail which A plant room will need to measure at least 2 x 2 x 1.8m high although 3 x 3 x 2m high
allows a membrane to be fixed to is to be recommended. This will need to be increased to 7 x 4 x 4m high or more if the
a pipe which is already cast into a feature is large and / or complex, or if there is a need for a large fall back tank.
concrete slab Prefabricated plant rooms can be assembled off-site in GRP (fibreglass) chambers.
These are quickly craned into place and buried. They offer a considerable saving in
time on site but only a small reduction in cost. All plant rooms must be drained in case
water is lost from the equipment. Plant room drains must be connected to a foul
sewer if chemicals are to be added to the water. If it is not possible to
connect to a gravity drainage system then a sump pump will have to be placed in a
depression in the floor of the plant room. It is always wise to assume that a sump
pump will fail when it is needed so, where possible, two pumps should be provided.
To guarantee their operation they should be fed from different electrical sub-stations.
A flood alarm, activated by a float switch or an electrode sensor, should be fitted as
standard. Despite the above all major items of equipment should be raised on
concrete plinths at least 300mm high.

Ideally the plant room should be located within 10m of the feature but distances of
30m or more can be made to work. If the resistance in the suction pipework is
excessive the pump(s) will cavitate and its output pulsate. This problem can be
overcome by increasing the size of the pipe which supplies water to the pump. The
Fig 20 An up-stand overflow which
length of the delivery pipework is seldom of importance.
can be removed to drain the feature
All plant rooms need to be ventilated to dispose of the heat which is released by the
electrical equipment and to avoid condensation. Plant rooms usually need at least six
air changes an hour. If fresh air is drawn in from outside then it is necessary to have a
frost-stat to turn off the ventilation fan(s) when the air temperature falls below, say, 10C
(50F). If the main pump(s) could be out of use for several hours at a time then a
heater(s) may be needed to maintain the environment in the plant room. If the outside
temperature is likely to remain below freezing for some time then it may be advisable to
run the equipment continuously to prevent the formation of ice in nozzles. When very
low temperatures are anticipated there is no alternative but to drain down pipework,
equipment and shallow pools.


Some nozzles draw additional water and / or air from their immediate surroundings to
increase their visual impact. Such nozzles are water level dependent. The maximum Table 8 The average full load
variation in water level which they can tolerate is usually less than 25mm (1 in). This current in amps for 3 phase 4
necessitates very accurate water level control which in turn means an automatic pole squirrel cage motors, 50 or
topping up system and well sized overflows. 60hz, calibrated in kilowatts

kW HP 240V 380V 415V

An overflow must be able to handle the maximum quantity of water which can enter the amp amp amp
lowest part of a system (fig 20 & 37). In the case of a lake it is important that the
overflow can handle the worst flood which could occur in 100 years. This also means 0.37 0.5 1.8 1.03 -
that overflows should be able to accommodate run off from adjacent surfaces. Even a 0.55 0.75 2.75 1.6 -
lawn will discharge water during heavy rain. Overflows can be designed as flood 0.75 1.0 3.5 2.0 2.0
control weirs to provide a storm water balancing capability. The consequences of 1.1 1.5 4.4 2.6 2.5
periodic flooding must be reflected in the design of the adjacent landscape. Most
1.5 2.0 6.1 3.5 3.5
plants will tolerate being inundated for one or two days at a time, as many as three or
four times a year, but only if the ground can drain freely afterwards. 2.2 3.0 8.7 5.0 5.0
3.0 4.0 11.5 6.6 6.5
In hot dry weather or inside buildings the evaporative loss from a flat water surface will 3.7 5.0 13.5 7.7 7.5
be 25mm per week. With agitation this rate can easily be doubled. It is important to
4.0 5.5 14.5 8.5 8.4
avoid the accumulation of salts within a pool i.e. to control the level of suspended
solids. When salt concentrations reach a critical level, crystals will precipitate on 5.5 7.5 20 11.5 11
surfaces within a pool. Such deposits are hard to remove. As a general rule 10% of 7.5 10 27 15.5 14
the water, in a formal pool, should be replaced each week. This can usually be 9.0 12 32 18.5 17
achieved by a long back-wash of the sand filter. In Summer even large lakes benefit 10 13.5 35 20 19
from being flushed with clean water every few weeks.
11 15 39 22 21

Water can be obtained from natural sources such as streams, but it is often 15 20 52 30 28
contaminated with silt and micro organisms. Boreholes are a good source of relatively 18.5 25 61 37 35
clean water. The land drains which are laid under a lake membrane can sometimes be 22 30 75 44 40
used as a source of water. Water can be collected from roofs but it will contain nitrates, 25 35 85 52 47
particularly after prolonged dry weather. The run-off from car parks may be
contaminated with oil although, in theory, interceptors should minimise the risk. In most 30 40 103 60 55
large cities the municipal water supply is rich in nitrates and phosphates which 33 45 113 68 60
encourages the growth of algae. 37 50 126 72 66
40 54 134 79 71
Features in urban locations are normally supplied with mains water. It is important to
45 60 150 85 80
ensure that pool water cannot be drawn back into the supply pipework. Double action
check valves can be used but an air gap is the only certain way to avoid contaminating 51 70 170 98 90
the local drinking water supply. Having an inlet 600mm higher than the surface of a 55 75 182 105 100
pool or a fall back tank is one option. A break tank with a pressure set to pump water 59 80 195 112 105
to the feature is the other. In hard water areas a softener may be used to convert 63 85 203 117 115
hard calcium salts into soft sodium salts to make cleaning easier. However, the
75 100 240 138 135
softener must be of sufficient size to allow for rapid refilling of the pool after it has been
cleaned. If the water needs to be very clean eg. for a glass wall, then it may be 80 110 260 147 138
necessary to install a deionising unit. These units are expensive. It is also important to 90 125 295 170 165
remember that deionised water is extremely aggressive and will corrode all but the 100 136 325 188 182
most durable materials.

There are a number of ways in which it is possible to plumb a water feature. However,
the more common are illustrated below:-

Fig 21 A multi level feature with a fallback tank (IV = isolating valve
RV = regulating valve NRV = non-return valve)

Fig 22 A single level feature with a large central nozzle (IV = isolating
valve RV = regulating valve NRV = non-return valve)

Fig 23 A waterfall where the filtration system re-circulates Fig 24 A stepped cascade which uses the filtration system
via the main pool to keep the upper pool filled and the pipework primed

Pumps can be divided into two main categories. They can be either submersible or
dry mounted. These categories can be further sub-divided into single stage or multi-
stage pumps. For urban water features single stage dry mounted pumps are the most
widely used. These give the water one push and move relatively large quantities of
water at low pressure. Multi-stage pumps contain a number of impellers and move a
small volume of water at high pressure. Dry mounted pumps should always be
located below the surface of the pool from which they have to draw water, otherwise
they may run dry and be damaged. If a pump is mounted above the surface of a pool
it is possible to use non-return valves to keep the pipework flooded, but eventually
debris will prevent the gates from shutting fully and the pipework will drain. The filter
pump can sometimes be used to keep the main system primed, but only if it runs con-

Submersible pumps can be single stage eg. sump pumps, or multi-stage eg. borehole
Fig 25 A pleated cartridge filter
pumps. Sewage pumps, which are designed to handle solids, are ideal for the
movement of large volumes of very low pressure water. As a rule mains voltage
submersible pumps should only be used when the public cannot get within 20m of
them. Even so the circuits must be protected by a residual current detector (RCD).

Once the flow rate has been calculated a pump supplier can determine the model
which is required. Table 8 gives an indication of the power supply, in amps, required
for a pump calibrated in kilowatts. This information is needed to determine the size of
the supply cable and the method of starting. Method 1 and table 9 can be used to deter-
mine the size of the supply cable. Every country has its own electrical regulations which
should always be followed.


Debris will always accumulate in a water feature. As a result a strainer, with a

removable screen, should be placed before each pump to prevent it getting damaged.
Valves must be placed before and after a strainer so that it can be opened, at least
once a week, for cleaning. The screen in the strainer needs to have a large surface
area, and to be heavily perforated. This means that only special water feature
strainers should be used. The holes in the screen should be half the diameter of the
smallest opening in the display. Some fountain nozzles have very small orifices in
which case a second fine strainer(s) may be required. Fine screens block quickly and
should not be used in isolation.


Dust and fine debris naturally accumulate in water and make it murky. Such debris can
be removed by the use of filters. Only a few passes a day are usually necessary for
treated water but filters are not ideally suited to removing algae and quickly become
clogged in biologically active water. The most widely used filters are:-

pleated cartridge filters - these act in the same way as an oil filter on a car engine.
They have a short life, are not particularly effective, and are time consuming to
change, but have the advantage of being cheap (fig 25).
Fig 26 A typical water treatment
sand filters - these consist of a stainless steel or GRP (fibre glass) drum filled with Fig 26 system
coarse sand. Water normally passes down through the sand bed with the result
that debris is deposited on its surface. Every few days the flow is reversed and
any debris flushed to waste The sand must be changed once a year. The
maximum flow rate is usually 10 l/s for one square metre of sand area.


Water can be thought of as being either biologically active or treated. Micro-organisms

thrive in the presence of light, carbon dioxide and water. Unicellular algae such as
Scenedesmus spp. colonise first, then a whole range of more complex organisms
appear. If the water moves quickly (over 0.5 m/s) filamentous algae will develop. UV
sterilisers can be used to kill micro organisms which are in circulation, but they will not
affect those which develop on surfaces within a feature. These can only be controlled
by the use of chemicals. There are several algaecides which can be used in pools, but
they are not effective against diseases such as Legionella. Unfortunately even a small
error in dosing with an algaecide can have a catastrophic effect on plants and fish.

The following processes are widely used for creating a sterile aquatic environment:-

chlorine and bromine

metal ions Fig 27 A free standing float switch
Of these a mixture of chlorine and bromine is the simplest and most certain way of
controlling micro-organisms. The chemicals can be added as granules by hand or as
a liquid via a pump. However, it is more usual for tablets of concentrated chemicals
to be placed in a diluter or brominator. If chlorine and bromine are used to sanitise
water there may be a smell, but this is usually due to chloroamines which are released
when organic matter degrades. As a result reducing the level of chlorine can make the
problem worse. Dilute brine can be electrolysed to release free chloride radicals.
Copper and silver ions can also be used to control the growth of micro organisms. Such
metal ion systems still need an occasional dose of chlorine to maintain the clarity of the
water. For most treatment systems the pH of the water must be maintained between
7.2 and 7.5. Outside this range their efficacy is reduced and salts may precipitate.

Purifying chemicals can be added by hand. This approach has no capital cost but is
unreliable. A time-clock can be used to open a solenoid valve before a diluter or to
activate a dosing pump, but this fails to reflect what is actually happening within the
feature. The best solution is to use an automatic electronic controller. With this a
small amount of water flows around sensor probes which generate signals which are
monitored by electronic circuitry (fig 26). Chemicals are then added automatically to
Fig 28 A hanging float switch maintain the pH and redox (reduction / oxidation) potential or aggressiveness of the
water. A fully automatic system is expensive, but very reliable if correctly maintained.


The following fittings are widely used in conjunction with water features:-

a) Skimmers are boxes which are set in the wall of a pool at the water level. Surface
water flows through these units on its way back to the filter pump. They contain a
removable mesh basket to collect floating debris. They are best located in static
corners. They are not widely used.

b) Eyeball Fittings are jets mounted in the wall of a pool just below the surface to
keep the water in motion particularly in still corners.

c) Overflows must be sized to accommodate the maximum flow which may result
from any eventuality. To prevent them from getting blocked they need to be fitted
with screens. Removable up-stand overflows can be pushed or screwed into
drainage points (fig 20).

d) Anti-vortex plates are placed over the open end of a suction pipe to prevent air
getting drawn into a pump. If this happens the output of the pump will pulsate. To
accommodate high flow rates an abstraction point may need to be positioned in a
sump to prevent a vortex from forming. These plates should support coarse grills
to keep out large debris but they must not take the place of a strainer.

e) Supply baffles or diffusers are placed over the end of pipes where water is
Fig 29 The reed mechanism which introduced below the surface. Supply pipework is often used to drain a feature in
is to be found in fig 27 & 28 which case grills must be fitted to hold back debris. When water is introduced
close to a spillway it must not disturb the surface so a large directional baffle may
be required.

f) Anemometers are necessary in most external locations. The electrical pulses

produced by the anemometer are monitored by a unit in the control panel. This
unit can control the operation of or speed of a pump, or activate motorised valves
which adjust the flow of water (fig 21 & 22).

g) Water level sensors are available in a number of forms and are used to regulate
water level. They can also be used to sound alarms if water runs to waste or to
turn off pumps and lights if the level falls. The following types are widely used:-

Ball cocks or float valves are imprecise as they do not have a positive on-off
position and do not respond well to small changes in water level.

Reed switches contain two metal strips which normally hang apart inside a small
tube. They are forced together by a small magnet fixed to a float which slides up
and down the outside of the tube. The signal from the switch is converted into a
useable current by a relay which usually activates a solenoid or motorized valve
which is mounted on the incoming water supply pipework (fig 27, 28 & 29).

Mercury tilt switches consist of a glass tube which contains a bead of mercury.
They can be encased in a float or mounted in a cradle above the water where they
rock in response to a float which rests on the surface. They are robust and can
Fig 30 A mercury tilt switch switch a modest current without the use of a relay (fig 30).
Electrode sensors employ a minimum of three stainless steel rods which hang in Method 1 An abridged method for
the water. The longest is a common return and its end is permanently in the water. obtaining an indication of cable size
As the level falls the middle rod comes out of the water and a relay closes causing based loosely on IEE Regulations
a solenoid valve, on the incoming water supply, to open. When the upper rod is 16th Edition
reached the relay breaks the electrical circuit and the valve closes. Additional rods It is necessary to check that the current rating of
may be fitted for ancillary functions such as flood alarms or to safeguard equipment the selected cable is equal to or greater than that
if the water level falls. which is required. Also the voltage drop between
the supply terminals and the equipment being
supplied should not exceed 4% of the nominal
voltage of the supply, disregarding starting condi-

max volt drop = approx volt drop x length x Ioad

Single phase pumps are easy to start with simple switches and time clocks. Over 1kW
a pump usually needs a three phase supply and as a result special starting equipment. or
A three phase power supply has a separate wire for each of the three phases. These
approx voltage drop = max voltage drop x 1000
are normally designated red, yellow and blue or U V W. Up to 5.5kW (7.5hp) a pump
length x load
is usually started direct on line (DOL). Over 5.5kW a pump should be started star- where;
delta. In this case the pump starts in the star mode, and after a few seconds switches
to the delta. This allows the pump to build up its speed slowly, but it will still draw 3 to approximate voltage drop is in mV / amp / m run
circuit length is in metres
4 times its normal running current during start up. If the same pump was started DOL circuit load is in amps
it would draw 6 to 7 times the normal running current which could affect the power
supply in the local area. A pump which is started DOL only requires 3 live wires and For example:
an earth, whereas a star-delta configuration requires six live wires and an earth.
circuit load 100 amps per phase
circuit length 200 metres
Some large pumps can only be started DOL eg. bore hole pumps. To avoid a power max voltage drop 4% of 415V or 16.6 volts
drain with these motors a soft start unit is employed. In their more advanced form
these units are referred to as frequency inverters. These allow the speed of the therefore
motor and hence the output of the pump to be varied electrically. Such units are very approx volt drop = 16.6 x 1000 = 0.83mV
expensive and usually cost more than the pump which they are controlling, although 200 x 100
they can save money in the long term.
From table 9 it can be seen that an approximate
voltage drop of 0.83mV falls below the figure
Control cabinets are available in a range of standards. They are usually formed in given for a 50mm2 cable which is 0.87mV. As a
steel with an anti-corrosion finish although in some countries plastic units are permit- result a 70mm2 3 or 4 core armoured copper
ted. Doors are now fitted with splash proof rubber seals as a matter of course. The cable which has a value of 0.60mV is the one to
most widely used panels are:-
It is also necessary to check that the current
IP 66 (UK) or Type 4X (USA) - for outdoor use to provide a degree of protection rating of the selected cable is equal to or
against corrosion, windblown dust and rain, splashing water, hose-directed water greater than that which is required. In this ex-
ample a 70mm2 cable has a rating of 251 amps
and damage from external ice formation. which is greater than the 100 amps which is
required and is therefore acceptable.
IP 55 (UK) or Type 12 (USA) - for indoor use to provide a degree of protection
against circulating dust, falling dirt and dripping non-corrosive liquids. CAUTION - sizing cables is a complex task
which should be left to a specialist. There
are many different types of cable and ways of
Doors must be lockable with an integral isolator to prevent access whilst the panel is mounting them. The above is a quick way to
live. Immediately after the isolator there should be an RCD (residual current device), get a feel for a cable size which ignores the
to detect any imbalance between the amount of electricity which is entering and exiting more complex aspects of the subject. Also
regulations differ between countries. Always
the system, followed by a main relay. Emergency stop buttons should be positioned consult a specialist.
close to the entrances to a plant room and connect into the control circuit which
holds in the main relay. A break in the control circuit will then result in the main relay
dropping out and the equipment failing safe. If there is any chance of water Table 9 Copper conductor sizes for
accumulating within a plant room then a float switch should also be placed in the multi-core XLPE (as opposed to PVC)
control circuit. Some functions may need to continue even if the panel shuts itself armoured cables with thermosetting
down. For example, sump pumps which drain the plant room should always remain insulation attached to a perforated tray
operative. The supply to these should come from another source. However, this is of- 2 core 3 or 4 core
ten impractical so some functions may need to connect directly to the incoming supply con- single approx three approx
after the main isolator, but before the main control circuit relay and RCD, and a notice ductor phase volt phase volt
to this effect must be placed on the front of the panel. Any secondary items of equip- cross AC or drop/ AC drop/
section DC amp/m amp/m
ment will then require their own RCD protection.
mm2 amps mV amps mV
All panels require either an integral time clock or a Building Management Service 1.5 29 31 25 27
(BMS) connection. Any relay which fails to engage should activate a warning light on 2.5 39 19 33 16
the front of the panel and a no volt contact to alert the BMS system which is 4 52 12 44 10
monitoring the equipment. Each major item of equipment will require a relay and a 6 66 7.9 56 6.8
switch on the front of the panel. It is advisable for all switches to be configured for 10 90 4.7 78 4.0
hand-off-auto use. It is normal for the water level controls, the filter pump and the 16 115 2.9 99 2.50
water treatment equipment to run continuously, and so these items are usually left in 25 152 1.90 131 1.65
the hand position. However, the main pump(s) is usually switched on for limited peri- 35 188 1.35 162 1.15
ods of time to conserve energy. Lights should not operate without the main pump(s), 50 228 1.00 197 0.87
and need a secondary means of control such as a photo-electric cell. If the level rises 70 291 0.69 251 0.60
95 354 0.52 304 0.45
too high water will run to waste and an alarm should be activated. If the level falls
120 410 0.42 353 0.37
below a predetermined minimum then the lights and the pump(s) should be switched
150 472 0.35 406 0.30
off and an alarm activated. This necessitates several water level monitoring devices.
185 539 0.29 463 0.26
240 636 0.24 546 0.21
It is common for micro-electronic circuits to malfunction at high or low temperatures.
300 732 0.21 628 0.195
In locations where temperatures can be very low and / or humidities high a heater may
400 847 0.195 728 0.170
be required inside the panel. If the equipment within the panel is likely to generate a
large amount of heat then a small ventilation fan may be required. Lighting
transformers should always be mounted in separate enclosures, away from the control
panel, due to the heat which they generate. Every country has its own electrical regu-
lations. These are always extensive and need to be reflected in the design of any
panel. All components which are used in a panel should be locally available so that
repairs can be quickly effected.


It is almost impossible to over illuminate a water feature. Luminaires should be

directed upwards if a fountain or waterfall is being lit. With individual nozzles the
lighting should be symmetrical. With linear effects banding can be a problem if the
luminaires are spaced too far apart. If underwater luminaires are mounted close to the
horizontal then total internal reflection will occur. This means that the bottom of the
pool will be illuminated and no light will come through the surface. This may be
acceptable if the base of the pool is clean and uncluttered. If not then attention will be
drawn to any shortcomings.

Luminaires need to be mounted as close to the surface as possible as even a small

depth of agitated water significantly reduces light output. If possible they should be
washed by water from the display. Incandescent lamps are inefficient and generate a
great deal of heat. If a luminaire is switched on when it is uncovered its lens will
overheat and crack. As a result the water level needs to be automatically monitored
and the luminaires turned off if they become exposed. Also the lighting relay should
be linked to the main pump relay so that the lights will not operate in isolation. A
photo-electric cell should be used to prevent the lights from operating during the day.

Most luminaires have interchangeable lenses although some seal round the front of
the lamp. Coloured lenses are available but each chosen colour requires a separate
set of luminaires or a multi lamped luminaire. Blue and red lenses dramatically reduce
light output. Green and yellow lenses allow more light to pass through them. A
mixture of luminaires with coloured and clear lenses can be used to create pastel
effects. Full spectrum LED luminaires will emit a wide range of coloured light, but they
are expensive and lack the power of more conventional units.

In several countries the normal mains power supply is 110 / 120 volt. Although not com-
pletely safe such supplies carry far less risk than the 220 / 240 volt supply which is used
in many countries. If a number of luminaires are connected to different phases of the
same supply then the potential hazard increases to 415 volts. In theory 240 volt lamps
can be used in underwater luminaires provided that there is adequate RCD protection.
However, this is not to be recommended. Voltages can always be reduced by the use
of a transformer. For sheer power 500 watt PAR 56 and 1000 watt PAR 64 110/120 volt
lamps are the most popular. In swimming pools 12 volt luminaires are usually
mandatory. Water features are often used for recreation by children and so logically
should be engineered to the same standard. 50 or 75 watt 12 volt dichromic lamps are
now widely used but lack power. Powerful 6 volt and 12 volt lamps, up to 250 watts,
are available but require very heavy cables. Transformers need to be located within
10m of low voltage luminaires to avoid power loss in the cables. Greater distances can
be accommodated, but only if the transformers are customised to allow for the voltage
drop. Ideally all transformers should be toroidally wound so that the loss of one or
two lamps does not affect the life of the remainder. Fibre optic systems have been
developed for use in swimming pools. They have the advantage that the light source
can be located away from the feature, but they lack power and are rarely appropriate.

Where possible the luminaires should be wired so that they can be lifted out of the water
for relamping but this operation is still best done when the feature is drained down.
Lamp life is usually much longer than anticipated because of the cooling effect of the
water. It is not uncommon to only change lamps once a year. Only vulcanised rubber
or ethylene propylene cables should be used underwater. Cables with a PVC sheath
should not be used as they are slightly porous.


There are many different types of nozzle manufactured by different companies. How-
ever, to produce an outline design it is necessary to have some idea of how much
water is required for the display. The tables on the following pages are based on equip-
ment from a number of sources. All that is necessary is to select the type of
nozzle and the height of the effect that is required. From the tables the flow rates
Fig 31 The relationship between and hence the pipe sizes can be determined. Large pod effects are only a collection of
nozzles from a simple finger jet nozzles mounted together. It is possible to calculate their flow requirement by adding
through all the major types together the output of the individual jets (fig 32 & 33).
AERATOR JET (water level dependent)

These create a tall column of white water with a pulsating crown when mounted vertically. They are very
economical with water. The amount of air which enters the stream can be adjusted by raising or lowering
the outer collar. The column diameter at the base is very small. They are very useful when grouped
together particularly as a pod. Their venturi design makes them very water level dependent. If there is any
floating debris in the feature then a trash guard will need to be fitted around the base of each nozzle.

thread od ht height m 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 10.0 12.0 15.0
3/4 inch 25mm 185mm flow l/s 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6
head m 6.0 8.0 10.5 14.5 17.0
1 inch 30mm 235mm flow l/s 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9
head m 4.0 6.5 8.0 11.0 14.5 18.0
11/4 inch 40mm 255mm flow l/s 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.2
head m 3.5 5.0 6.0 8.5 10 13 18
11/2 inch 50mm 335mm flow l/s 0.6 0.7 0.9 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 2.2 2.4
head m 3.5 4.5 5.5 7.5 9.0 11 12 16 19 23
2 inch 65mm 385mm flow l/s 1.5 2.0 2.4 2.7 3.0 3.4 3.8 4.2 4.5 5.0
head m 3.0 4.0 5.5 7.0 8.5 10 13 16 18 22
3 inch 90mm 535mm flow l/s 5.3 6.2 7.0 7.8 8.6 9.5 10 11 13
head m 8.0 8.5 10 13 15 18 22 26 32


These create a low pulsating mound of heavily aerated water which can be useful in windy locations. A
large expanding spray can be created at higher flow rates. The column diameter at the base is about half
the height. These nozzles should be covered before the water supply is turned on otherwise there will be
a great deal of spray. The depth of water over the nozzles needs to be strictly maintained. These jets can
cause surging in small features unless wave baffles are fitted. If surging is acceptable then the effect can
be exploited. These jets require a non-turbulent water supply. The breather pipe must be well clear of the
surface of the pool and may need extending if several nozzles are used close together.

thread od ht height m 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 10.0
3/4 inch 185mm 235mm flow l/s 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.7
head m 3.1 4.8 5.9 8.3 9.6
1 inch 105mm 280mm flow l/s 1.2 1.5 1.7 1.9 2.1 2.2
head m 2.6 4.6 5.8 7.0 8.6 11.0
11/4 inch 115mm 345mm flow l/s 1.7 2.1 2.5 2.9 3.1 3.3 3.7
head m 2.5 4.5 6.7 8.0 8.9 10.7 14.7 optimum
11/2 inch 130mm 390mm flow l/s 2.2 2.8 3.4 3.9 4.3 4.7 5.6 6.3 performance
head m 2.5 4.9 6.9 8.4 11.6 17.1 21.1 23.5
2 inch 175mm 450mm flow l/s 3.6 4.4 5.1 5.6 6.1 6.4 7.2 7.9 8.6 16.8
head m 2.2 3.9 5.2 6.3 7.4 8.2 9.9 11.6 13.2 21.0
3 inch 250mm 525mm flow l/s 6.0 7.1 7.8 8.5 8.9 10.8 12.8 14.2 18.2 19.2
head m 3.1 4.3 5.5 7.1 8.3 9.8 11.9 15.6 24.7 28.5


These produce a tall conical block of highly aerated water. The column diameter at the base is one
quarter of the height. They can be used on their own or as part of a group. Their venturi design makes
them very water level dependent. They can cause surging in small features unless wave baffles are fitted.
They require a non-turbulent water supply.

thread od ht height m 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 10.0
3/4 inch 150mm 135mm flow l/s 1.0 1.3 1.5 1.7 1.9 2.1
head m 7.1 11 15 20 24 27
11/4 inch 170mm 190mm flow l/s 1.4 1.7 2.0 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.9
head m 6.4 7.9 9.5 14 17 20 24
11/2 inch 180mm 230mm flow l/s 1.7 2.0 2.3 2.7 2.9 3.2 3.7
head m 2.9 6.6 9.9 13 15 16 24
2 inch 100mm 290mm flow l/s 4.9 5.3 5.9 6.3 7.0 7.8 8.2 9.5 12
head m 7.6 9.3 11 14 19 24 27 33 39
3 inch 160mm 365mm flow l/s 8.4 9.4 10 11 13 14 16 19 23
head m 6.1 8.1 9.3 11 15 18 20 35 47
Plate 25 A collection of aerating jets with Plate 26 A block of water level independent Plate 27 A ring of water level dependent
500 watt PAR 56 luminaires aerating jets surrounded by a splash zone aerating jets set on a granite dome

Plate 28 Cascade jets produce thick dense Plate 29 A ring of cascade jets Plate 30 Five cascade jets with four 500
columns of water watt PAR 56 luminaires

Plate 31 A foam or bubbler jet with its Plate 32 A feature can be covered with Plate 33 Aerating jets discharging through
breather pipe projecting above the surface paving to create a piazza paving slabs

Plate 34 A ring of aerating jets with a tall Plate 35 A large foam pod flanked by four Plate 36 A water level dependent aerating
central column which is causing splashing cascade jets (see fig 32) jet castle pod (see fig 33)
Plate 37 A dandelion needs a very well Plate 38 A bell nozzle display will form and Plate 39 Calyx jets are very variable with
filtered water supply collapse repeatedly if perfectly adjusted even a small amount of adjustment

Plate 40 Water can be blown out of a cylin- Plate 41 Finger jets can be set in a ring Plate 42 Finger jets can be set on a linear
der below a jet with compressed air manifold

Plate 43 An aerator can be used to Plate 44 Coloured lenses can be fitted to Plate 45 White and coloured light can be
mechanically entrain air in water luminaires but they do reduce light output combined to create pastel shades

Plate 46 A twin pump floating fountain, Plate 47 A floating fountain with cascade Plate 48 Small floating fountains can enli-
upside down, awaiting installation jets ven and oxygenate static bodies of water
AERATOR JET (water level independent)

These create a tall column of white water when mounted vertically. Their totally enclosed design means
that they are not water level dependent. They do not require a smooth water supply. They tend to be less
forceful than the water level dependent type of aerator nozzle described above. The column diameter at
the base is very small. As they discharge above water they can be used to introduce water to a multilevel
system without the need for non-return valves.

thread od ht height m 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 10.0
1 inch 30mm 150mm flow l/s 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.1
11/4 inch 40mm 160mm flow l/s 1.0 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.7
11/2 inch 45mm 200mm flow l/s 1.5 1.7 1.9 2.2 2.4 2.7
2 inch 55mm 220mm flow l/s 1.8 2.2 2.6 3.3 3.9 4.5 5.0 6.0 7.0
3 inch 80mm 285mm flow l/s 4.0 4.5 5.0 6.0 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.5 12.0

head m 4.5 6.0 7.5 11 13 16 18 22 27


These create a clear circular mushroom of water from a low mounted nozzle (as opposed to a bell jet which
has a tall pipe at its centre). The pattern can be adjusted from a full translucent sheet to a rough broken
half sheet with a droplet outer skirt. A constant water level is not required but windy locations should be
avoided. The water supply needs to be non turbulent and very well filtered. As they discharge above water
they can be used to introduce water to a multilevel system without the need for non-return valves. A num-
ber of different inserts and / or adjustable collars are available which can be used to change the initial
steepness of a curtain across a range of angles, which in turn affects its height and spread.

thread ht spray 20o 25o 30o 35o 40o 45o

11/2 inch 200mm flow l/s 0.7 1.3 0.7 1.3 0.7 1.4 0.6 1.6 0.6 1.8 0.5 2.3
head m 0.4 0.9 0.4 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.6
2 inch 230mm flow l/s 0.8 2.6 0.7 2.2 0.7 2.5 0.6 2.8 0.6 3.2 0.5 3.8

spray height flow head m 0.5 1.2 0.6 0.9 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.6 1.1 0.6 1.2 0.6
in m in l/s 3 inch 300mm flow l/s 0.9 8.2 0.8 6.3 0.8 7.6 0.7 8.2 0.7 9.5 0.6 12
spray diam head head m 0.9 1.5 1.5 1.2 1.7 1.2 1.9 1.2 2.0 0.9 2.5 0.9
in m in m
4 inch 350mm flow l/s 1.1 13 1.0 11 0.9 12 0.8 12 0.7 15 0.7 21
head m 1.5 1.8 2.1 1.5 2.3 1.5 2.4 1.2 2.8 1.2 3.1 1.2
6 inch 400mm flow l/s 1.2 23 1.1 14 1.1 15 1.0 16 0.8 21 0.7 26
head m 1.8 2.1 2.4 1.8 2.5 1.8 2.8 1.5 3.1 1.5 3.4 1.5


These are the most basic jet and can be used individually or grouped in a pod where they can produce a
massive column. They are ideally suited for use along a straight or circular manifold. They are available
with a simple threaded socket connection or an adjustable swivel coupling. They require a very stable flow
of water. If the supply is turbulent then flow straightening vanes will be required in the pipework before the
jet. They should only be used a few degrees away from the direction of the supply flow.

thd thd ht orif height m 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 10 15 20 30 40 50 60 100
inch inch mm mm head m 0.7 1.3 1.9 2.5 3.8 5.0 6.3 7.5 10 13 19 25 38 50 63 75 125
1/4 60 3 flow l/s 0.01 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06
1/4 60 4 flow l/s 0.03 0.05 0.07 0.09 0.11 0.13
3/8 70 5 flow l/s 0.06 0.09 0.11 0.13 0.16 0.21
3/8 70 6 flow l/s 0.09 0.13 0.16 0.20 0.24 0.28
1/2 B 85 8 flow l/s 0.15 0.25 032. 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.55
1/2 3/4 84 10 flow l/s 0.25 0.35 0.45 0.55 0.65 0.75 0.85 0.95
3/4 11/4 105 12 flow l/s 0.40 0.55 0.65 0.75 0.95 1.15 1.25 1.40 1.60
A 11/2 140 16 flow l/s 0.70 0.90 1.20 1.50 1.85 2.25 2.70 3.10 3.50
11/2 155 20 flow l/s 1.75 2.20 2.65 3.20 3.80 4.40 4.75 5.58 6.33
2 190 25 flow l/s 2.40 3.20 3.85 4.60 5.80 7.00 7.81 9.06 10.2 12.5 14.3 16.2 17.1
3 310 30 flow l/s 4.50 5.50 6.65 7.80 9.00 11.3 13.4 15.0 16.8 20.4 23.4 27.0 30.0

4 390 40 flow l/s 7.10 9.00 10.8 12.5 14.9 17.8 20.3 24.0 26.8 32.7 38.0 42.5 47.7 58.2

4 or 5 475 50 flow l/s 9.60 12.0 15.0 18.5 23.4 28.2 31.8 37.2 42.0 52.8 61.2 68.9 76.1 90.0

6 550 65 flow l/s 17.3 21.6 27.0 31.3 38.8 46.0 52.0 60.6 68.8 84.3 97.9 111 122 143

6 600 75 flow l/s 24.6 31.8 37.8 42.0 52.2 63.6 72.7 82.1 93.5 116 141 155 171 200

A - a male threaded swivel connection secured by a lock nut

B - a female threaded swivel connection secured by a bolted flange
Water should not flow through pipework faster than 2.0m/s, or 2.5m/s at the most.
When it reaches the nozzle the water has to be accelerated for it to create a visual
effect. As a result most nozzles taper so as to force the water into a jet. The remain-
der usually squeeze the water through a narrow gap. The basic tapered nozzle will
produce a clear finger of water. These can be positioned around a circular or along a
linear manifold. The flow entering the nozzle needs to be stable otherwise the jet will
break up around the outside. For this reason there should always be a length of
straight pipe immediately before a nozzle. Vanes in this pipework will significantly
improve the stability of the flow. Even so, the stream will still break up if the force with
which the water passes through the nozzle becomes excessive. This happens because
the water which is adjacent to the wall of the nozzle and the supply pipe travels at a
different speed to that which is at the centre of the flow. In some special applications
this problem is overcome by placing fine drinking straws, or metal mesh in the nozzle.
This creates a jet of water which travels at a uniform speed or a lamina flow. This
gives a very precise effect but needs very clean water otherwise the straws get
blocked (see jumping jets below). To create more volume a simple tapered jet can be
incorporated into a nozzle to draw in additional water and / or air (fig 31). Height is then
sacrificed for volume. For a stronger effect a number of nozzles can be grouped into a Fig 32 A large foam pod consists of
numerous aerating nozzles connected
pod (fig 32 & 33). Nozzles are usually formed in brass or gun metal because these
to a lower manifold and an upper air
materials are easy to machine. Some small nozzles are formed in plastic but they are supply chamber (see plate 35).
fragile and should be avoided. Indicative flow rates are as follows:-
Sudden changes in the flow rate to a jet cannot be achieved by valving as the water in 4m high 30 l/s @ 30m head
the pipework takes time to accelerate. A number of novelty effects are available which 8m high 38 l/s @ 45m head
employ different techniques to overcome this problem. Probably the best known is the 12m high 45 l/s @ 60m head
jumping jet where a smooth arching primary jet of water is periodically deflected by a
second unseen jet of water so that it fails to pass through an orifice in a plate. A pneu-
matically or hydraulically operated guillotine can be used to achieve the same effect. A
brief intermittent effect can be achieved by blowing water out of a chamber
immediately below a nozzle with compressed air which is stored in an adjacent cylinder.
This produces instant, powerful but short lived, jets of water.

Mists can be cooling in Summer but the water must be sterile if the threat of Legionella
is to be avoided. Fogging nozzles use very high pressure water or water which is
accelerated with compressed air. The water needs to be free of particulate matter as
the opening in the nozzles are very small.


The maintenance cycle must be determined before a design is finalised. Formal pools
usually need to be drained down, cleaned and refilled in less than a day and sometimes
overnight. The drainage system and the water supply need to be of sufficient size to
make this possible. In and around buildings the water usually needs to be treated to
avoid a health risk. Adding chemicals to a system is pointless if their concentrations are
not regularly monitored. The pH and chemical content of the water should be tested
twice a week. The bacterial and fungal content should be monitored by exposing dip
slides every two weeks. The presence of Legionella can only be detected by special
tests which should take place every two months.
Fig 33 Aerating jet castle pod (see
plate 36). Many combinations are
25 FLOATING FOUNTAINS possible but often 1 or 3 nozzles with
a 2 inch bsp thread are surrounded
On lakes where the water level fluctuates the only way to produce an effect is to have by 8 to 16 nozzles with a 11/2 inch
a fountain which floats. This is done by having a series of almost submerged floats bsp thread. The total flow requirement
which are bolted to a frame (fig 34). Below the frame hangs one or more sump pumps can be calculated from the water
level dependent aerating nozzle
or horizontally mounted bore hole pumps. The pump(s) feed into a chamber which lies table
directly below the nozzle(s). Lights can be bolted to the frame. The great advantage
of floating fountains is that they can be removed for routine maintenance and, if
necessary, for the Winter. For safety, there must always be an earth leakage detector
(RCD) in the supply and an isolator immediately next to the lake. No human activity
should be allowed within at least 20m of such equipment.

Standing bodies of water can become anaerobic particularly in hot weather. In such
cases aerators can be beneficial. In this case an electric motor hangs below a circular
float and carries a propeller. The flow can be directed upwards to throw water into the
air or mounted horizontally below the surface with a venturi system to entrain air.
These units can be mounted several metres below the surface to direct warm water
upwards to keep boat moorings free of ice or to provide a better environment for fish.


With natural water the rule is the deeper the better although at depths over 10m
stratification, where the water separates into layers, can be a problem. Fountains can
help to overcome this difficulty. To be ecologically stable a lake needs to be over 5m
(16 ft) deep. However, it is seldom cost effective to construct lakes of this depth. If a
large part of a lake is over 2.5m (8 ft) deep and the water is circulated then there are Fig 34 A typical section through a
seldom difficulties. The shade of trees can prevent overheating but their leaves can floating fountain
cause problems. Soft leaves, from say Alder and Birch, can enrich a natural system
providing that the quantity is not excessive. Algae will develop on all underwater sur-
faces unless the depth of water is sufficient to prevent light from reaching the bottom.

The minimum depth of water which is required for fish is a balance between the cost of
construction, and the danger of over-heating in Summer and freezing in Winter. If the
feature is engineered so that it always remains cool, clean and well oxygenated, then
300mm (1 ft) of water will often suffice. Unfortunately, the temperature of a shallow
body of water soon matches that of its surroundings, although careful environment
design can minimise this problem.

Water is at its most dense at 4C which is why ice floats. Toxic gases can accumulate
when the surface is sealed with ice. It may be advisable to employ a heater, or to direct
warm water from the bottom of a deep pool at the surface, to keep at least part of it free
from ice, if the fish are of particular value (see section 25 above).


Fish and plants add an interesting dimension to any water feature. Unfortunately, algae
develop rapidly when water warms up. Water, which contains plants and fish, can
be treated with chemicals to reduce the growth of micro-organisms. They are not
Fig 35 A simple aerating nozzle particularly effective and can kill the plants and fish if the dosage is wrong. Salmonella,
which draws air into the re-circulation Listeria, E. coli and / or Legionella are usually present in natural water bodies. As a
supply for an organic pool. result untreated water should never be agitated in the presence of people with a weak
immune system or in a confined space. In locations where the temperature of the water
is likely to exceed 20C on a regular basis the water may need to be chilled to control
the development of Legionella.

When combined, bright sunlight and oxygen have a sanitising effect. Vigorous
aeration in high light conditions is often sufficient to keep water clear. Air can be
entrained below the surface by the use of venturi nozzles (fig 35). To keep water clean
for fish it is necessary to provide a biological filter (fig 36). This is a large tank filled
with inert porous granular material, such as lytag, upon which bacteria can develop to
digest plant and fish waste. Experience would indicate that 2m3 of filter medium are
needed to treat the waste from 100kg of fish. However, this is very variable and
depends upon the environment and the species. UV sterilisers will dramatically reduce
the number of bacteria and algae in circulation. However, they will not prevent algae
from developing on surfaces within a feature. Regular sweeping of the inside of a pool,
even when it is full of water, will reduce this problem as it causes the algae to be drawn
into the treatment system.

Fig 36 A biological filtration system


When an embankment is built across a natural water course it is said to be on

stream. With an on stream structure the riparian rights of users downstream must be
respected. For example, in Summer the lake might evaporate the total flow of the
stream which feeds it. In contrast an off stream lake is placed away from the bottom
of a valley although it can be fed by a spur from a stream to keep it topped up with
fresh water. Unless it is unavoidable no more than 25,000m3 (5,555,000 gallons) of
water should be stored above ground level. Retaining structures which hold more than
this quantity of water need routine inspections and certification which is costly. The
flow from a catchment area which is greater than 400ha (1000 acres) should not be
intercepted due to the size of the overflow which is needed to accommodate the worst
storm in 100 years (fig 37).
It is possible to produce an impervious water retaining structure from an homoge-
nous subsoil which is comprised of 25% clay mixed with equal parts of sand and
gravel (fig 38). If such material is in short supply then an impervious clay rich core
can be supported by less impervious material (fig 39). The top of an embankment
should be 4 to 5m across and at least 1.2m higher than the normal water level. The
sides should have a slope which is no steeper than 1 in 3 or 33%. Pipes which pass
through earth structures should bear fully welded flanges which increase the length
of any potential seepage by at least 50%. All open pipes should be fitted with hinged
guards to prevent the entry of debris, animals and children.

Deep water can be a danger to people who do not anticipate its presence. At no
point should the sides of a lake slope at more than 1 in 3 or 33%. A gently sloping
ledge 2 to 4m (6 ft to 12 ft) wide, covered by 450 to 600mm (1 ft 6 in to 2 ft) of water,
should be formed around the perimeter of all decorative lakes to enable a person to
crawl out. Such a ledge can support emergent aquatic plants.

Unless the ground under an artificial lake has a very high clay content it will need to
be lined. A liner represents a considerable additional investment and will usually
double the cost of construction. Puddled clay was traditionally used but is seldom
practical due to the problem of locating the correct grade of clay, spreading it and
then puddling it. Should puddled clay dry out it will crack and leak even when re- Fig 37 A section through a lake
wetted. Bentonite (powdered clay) can be mixed with sub-soil to produce a fragile overflow which will accommodate
waterproof layer. Several companies market a thin layer of bentonite sandwiched storm flows without backing up
between two layers of geotextile. In this form it is easy to handle but must be placed
carefully and immediately covered with 300mm (1 ft) of soil. As the bentonite absorbs
water it swells. It cannot lift the weight of the overlying soil so it expands sideways to
produce a seal. The theory is simple but the practice often leaves much to be desired
due to difficulties which are encountered during installation.

Flexible non-elastic lake liners such as polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are
cheap but are not particularly durable. PVC sheets are sometimes reinforced with a
synthetic fibre mesh to increase their durability. The best membranes are produced
from butyl rubber or the more modern EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer).

Fig 38 A basic earth embankment with or without a liner softened by a downstream surcharge of soil to support small trees and shrubs

Fig 39 An embankment with a clay rich core for use where there is insufficient clay on site or where it is of the wrong grade

Fig 40 A part section through a typical lake with a membrane

Both materials will accept a great deal of stretching but are expensive. There are a
number of grades available but the most commonly used is 1.2mm thick. Large sheets
are fabricated from narrow rolls in factory conditions so as to keep on-site welding to a
minimum. The maximum joint length is usually a multiple of 25m up to a maximum of
100m. The largest area that can be handled with ease is 1000m2. The large concerti-
na folded sheets are placed on the edge of the excavation and stretched out before
being welded together (fig 40). Sheet membranes have the advantage that the joints
can be vacuum tested. Flexible membranes are usually glued to any concrete struc-
tures to support their weight. Stainless steel strips are then pressed against a thick
layer of flexible sealant, which is placed along the top edge of the membrane, before
being screwed in place.

Most lakes need to be emptied at some time during their life. To avoid the danger of
rising ground water lifting the membrane a land drain, with gravel back fill, should
always be positioned under a lake (fig 40). The drain should discharge to waste or
open into a chamber from which the water can be pumped when necessary. The edge
of a lake needs to be carefully detailed as the membrane has to be turned into a trench
and protected in a way that cannot be compromised by wave action. The excavation
must be cleared of all sharp objects to safeguard the well-being of the membrane. In
stony areas a sand bed may be required. In all cases sheet membranes should be
protected both above and below by a thick geotextile fabric. The two geotextile layers
will usually cost 25% of the liner price. Placing a layer of sand or stone free sandy sub-
soil 300mm (12 in) thick on top of the geotextile is the best way of completing the
protection. A strip of gravel, cobbles, timber and / or plants around the outside of the
lake is necessary to prevent erosion.


Few aquatic plants prosper in water which is more than 1.5m deep (5ft). Even water
lilies prefer less than this depth. Marginal plants usually prefer water which is only 100
to 300mm deep. Aquatic plants should only be planted when the water temperature is
rising in Spring. For this reason most planting takes place in May. The aquatic
environment can be very variable. With large projects a shot gun approach, where a
large number of different species are planted in distinct blocks, is to be recommended.
Nature then eliminates the weak and within three years a stable planting pattern will
have evolved.

Plants which are used in water features are frequently divided into categories such as
bog plants and marginals. These terms are very flexible and many plants cross these
man-made boundaries. The table on the back cover of this bulletin describes the most
useful from a long list of species and cultivars. It is important to use only those species
which are indigenous or which pose no risk to established ecosystems.


All water features need a realistic budget. The easiest way to apparently lower the cost
of a project is to omit the equipment which is needed to maintain the purity of the water
and to undersize the rest of the system. Using a membrane with a short life or poor
characteristics is another way to save money. All water features should be designed to
operate with a small amount of semi-skilled labour otherwise they will quickly fall into
disuse. This means having simple, well engineered systems, built with the very best
materials. Water features are expensive to construct and to maintain. If the budget is
inadequate then it is best to omit the feature.


Few designers have the time which is needed to master the intricacies of designing
water features. As a result they have to rely on performance specifications and are
frequently dissapointed when the project is complete. With the aid of this publication
nozzles, spillways, flow rates, pipe sizes, membranes and engineering details can be
defined. This information can then be incorporated in a specification. To obtain a draft
specification telephone +44 (0) 1474 874 870 or facsimile +44 (0) 1474 874 873 or
Email This draft specification needs to be carefully
reviewed and modified. It is always necessary to provide a description of the site and
to complete the schedule of components. Any unused, duplicated or mutually
exclusive clauses should be deleted. The final document must be checked by a
suitably qualified professional before it is issued.

Disclaimer - this is a brief technical document intended only to guide and inform. No
warranty is offered or accepted for the contents of this document unless
Hydrotechnology are retained as design consultants or contractors.

Note - the illustrations used in this publication have been selected to explain
technical principals and represents the work of a number of organisations, and not
solely that of Hydrotechnology.
Table 10 A description of some of the more useful temperate aquatic plants

botanic name common name flower flowering height water sunlight planting type
colour period depth density
Gunnera manicata Prickly Rhubarb brown July - Sept 200cm moist shady 1 per 2m2 bog
Hosta (many named cultivars) Plantain Lily lilac July - Aug 45cm moist shady 5 - 6 / m2 bog
Iris sibirica (many named cultivars) Siberian Flag blue & white June - July 75cm moist sun 3 - 4 / m2 bog
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower scarlet Aug - Sept 50cm 0 - 5cm shady 5 - 6 / m2 bog
Lysichitum americanum Yellow Skunk Cabbage yellow April - May 50cm 0 - 5cm shady 4 - 5 / m2 bog
Lysichitum camtschatcense White Skunk Cabbage white April - May 45cm 0 - 5cm shady 4 - 5 / m2 bog
Lythrum salicaria Purple Loosestrife red & purple July - Sept 100cm 0 - 5cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 bog
Mimulus guttatus Luteus Monkey Musk yellow May - Aug 30cm 0 - 5cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 bog
Myosotis scorpioides Water Forget-me-not blue Apri - Aug 15cm 0 - 5cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 bog
Peltyphyllum peltatum Umbrella Plant pale pink May - June 100cm moist shady 3 - 4 / m2 bog
Rheum palmatum Ornamental Rhubarb red Aug - Sept 200cm moist sun 1 per 2m2 bog
Zantedeschia aethiopica Arum Lily white June - Aug 75cm moist sun 4 - 5 / m2 bog

Acorus calamus Sweet Scented Rush green June - July 100cm 0 - 15cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Alisma plantago-aquatica Water Plantain pink & white June - Sept 75cm 0 - 15cm sun 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Butomus umbellatus Flowering Rush pink July - Sept 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Calla palustris Bog Arum white April - June 20cm 0 - 20cm shady 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold yellow March - May 30cm 0 - 10cm sun 5 - 6 / m2 marginal
Caltha polypetala Giant Marsh Marigold yellow March - May 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Carex acutiformis Lesser Pond Sedge brown June - Sept 75cm 0 - 20cm shady 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Carex riparia Greater Pond Sedge brown May - June 120cm 0 - 25cm shady 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Cotula coronopifolia Golden Buttons yellow May - Sept 15cm 0 - 10cm sun 5 - 6 / m2 marginal
Cyperus longus Sweet Galingale red brown July - Sept 100cm 0 - 20cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Eriophorum angustifolium Common Cotton Grass white May - July 60cm 0 - 10cm shady 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Glyceria maxima Variegata Striped Water Grass light brown June - July 60cm 0 - 10cm shady 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Iris laevigata Japanese Iris blue May - June 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Iris laevigata Alba Japanese Iris white May - June 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Iris laevigata Rose Queen Japanese Iris pink May - June 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Iris laevigata Snowdrift Japanese Iris double white May - June 75cm 0 - 15cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Flag yellow May - June 100cm 0 - 20cm sun 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Iris versicolor Blue Flag Iris blue May - June 75cm 0 - 10cm sun 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Juncus effusus Soft Rush brown June - July 75cm 0 - 10cm shady 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Mentha aquatica Water Mint pink June - July 50cm 0 - 10cm sun 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Menyanthes trifoliata Bog Bean white April - May 30cm 0 - 15cm shady 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Phalaris arundinacea Picta Gardeners Garters white June - Sept 100cm 0 - 10cm sun 3 - 4 / m2 marginal
Phragmites communis Common Reed brown Aug - Oct 150cm 0 - 30cm any 4 - 5 / m2 marginal
Pontederia cordata Pickerel Weed blue Aug - Sept 100cm 0 - 15cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Ranunculus lingua Grandiflora Greater Spearwort yellow May - June 60cm 0 - 10cm shady 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Sagittaria japonica Japanese Arrowhead white June - Sept 50cm 0 - 15cm any 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Sagittaria latifolia American Arrowhead white June - Sept 100cm 0 - 30cm any 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Scirpus lacustris Common Bulrush brown July - Aug 200cm 0 - 30cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Scirpus tabernaemontani Zebrinus Zebra Rush brown July - Aug 120cm 0 - 15cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 marginal
Typha latifolia Greater Reedmace brown Aug - Sept 200cm 0 - 60cm any 2 - 3 / m2 marginal

Aponogeton disctachyus Water Hawthorn white & black May - Sept 15cm 10 - 75cm sun 2-3/ m2 floating
Hottonia palustris Water Violet lilac May - June 30cm 15 - 100cm sun 1 bunch / m2 floating
Hydrocharis morsus-ranae Frog Bit white June - Sept 20cm 10 - 150cm sun 2 - 3 / m2 floating
Nuphar lutea Brandy Bottle yellow June - Aug 15cm 50 - 200cm shady 1 - 2 / m2 floating
Nymphaea Alba Water Lily - medium white June - Sept 10cm 50 - 100cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Nymphaea Charles de Meurville Water Lily - medium red June - Sept 10cm 50 - 100cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Nymphaea Gold Medal Water Lily - large yellow June - Sept 10cm 50 - 100cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Nymphaea Gladstoniana Water Lily - large white June - Sept 10cm 50 - 150cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Nymphaea James Brydon Water Lily - medium red June - Sept 10cm 50 - 100cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Nymphaea Carnea Water Lily - medium pink June - Sept 10cm 50 - 100cm sun 1 per 5m2 floating
Orontium aquaticum Golden Club gold & white May - June 50cm 20 - 100cm sun 1 - 2 / m2 floating
Stratiotes aloides Water Soldier white June - Aug 15cm 10 - 150cm any 1 per 5m2 floating

Callitriche stagnalis Starwort light green May - Sept - 15 - 100cm any 1 bunch / m2 submerge
Elodea canadensis Canadian Pond-weed - - - 15 - 150cm any 1 bunch / m2 submerge
Potamogeton crispus Curly Pond-weed brown May - Sept 25cm 15 - 100cm sun 1 bunch / m2 submerge

Fawkham Green Telephone - +44 (0) 1474 874 870
Longfield Kent Facsimile - +44 (0) 1474 874 873
England DA3 8NL Email -