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Hello, Bucketeers and lurkers. A couple of weeks ago, I began tearing up my side yard to move a waterfall that would now pour into a new 30-foot-long shallow creek that emptied into an enlarged pond.

Want more details?  Continue below the orange Gordian knot.

Yesterday I fastened three liners to each other with special two-sided tape, and overlaid the new seam with $8/foot eight-inch wide tape. The tape adhesive was like a gooey tar and you had to paint primer solvent onto the liners before pressing the tape down.

Each liner was 10-12 feet long and 6-10 feet wide, for 30 feet total. They ranged between 20 and 45 mils in thickness (25-45 thousandths of an inch, much thicker than a 3 mil garbage bag). the 20 mil liner was made of PCV and the others of EPDM, which are types of synthetic, more-or-less flexible plastic sheets.

I salvaged the liners from prior, partly-completed or abandoned projects. The 20 mil liner is scary-thin. The liner cartels warn that UV light destroys liners over the years, but I am able to reuse liners that were 5-10 years old.

I laid the liners down over a shallow channel formed by shoveling about 3 tons (six cubic yards) of "berm dirt" that was screened clay soil into a long heap, and raking out channels.  We formed the channel walls by wetting the berm dirt and layering it up to about a foot high on each side of the channel. The channel feeds into a 8 x 8 pond.

We shoveled some pea gravel onto the liners, connected the pond pump to the waterfall, and started pumping water.  Here's what it looked like.

I put a pump into an open sided plastic crate, placed heater filters along the crate sides, and poured 1/4-1/2" red lava rock over and around the pump, filling the crate. I placed the crate into the downstream pond. In the following picture the water is murky because I has placed a couple of inches of dirty pea gravel in the bottom of the pond and in the stream channel.  The initial water flows stirred  up the dirt in the gravel.  I've since pumped that muddy water onto my vegetables and added clearer water.

The green garden hose in these pictures runs from the pump to the waterfall. I used an old "Lil' Giant" pump, rated at 1200 GPH @ 1' maximum flow rate.  In practice it is only pumping 300 gallons/hour (5 gallons/minute, like a strong garden hose). The pump is 1/6 HP (horsepower) with a thermally protected, shaded pole motor.

 I screwed the green, 30 foot, 5/8" garden hose onto the pump outlet, and attached the other end of the hose, with an adapter, to a small pipe on the back of the 3 foot high fiberglass waterfall, shown in the following picture.


When the pump runs, it draws water through the filter and the porous rocks, allowing some filtering, and also slowing the water movement which gives nitrogen-loving bacteria time to digest any fish poop in the water. Fish and plants go in the pond later.

It takes about five minutes for the pump to send enough water to get the waterfall flowing, and for the waterfall discharge to fill up the 30 feet of stream channel, which then delivers the water back to the pond containing the pump.  The pond loses 1.5" of water depth until the waterfall and channel fill with water and return flows begin.

The stream channel is about 6 inches deep in water for 10 feet near the waterfall, and about 2-3 inches deep the rest of the way to the pond. There are two inches of pea gravel  in the channel which retain about an inch of water.  Here is the shallow pond in front of the waterfall.

I'm working on check dams to allow the stream channel to fill up higher with water.  When I turn off the pump, the channel drains into the downstream pond, except for a 6 foot reach immediately below the waterfall.  Above is a picture of a check dam, made of pretty rocks and some petrified wood. I am going to work very hard to make this whole scheme prettier, now that it is functioning.


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Thank you for reading. I'll work this morning so I'll respond to comments before lunchtime, PDT.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 11:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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