Gardening Vivian | 01 Feb 2010 03:05 am

Pondless Waterfall – The History

In the early 1990s, a rubber sheet material, manufactured by Firestone and Goodyear, became a popular construction material used in building ponds and waterfalls. One innovative entrepreneur in Chicago began pre-cutting various configurations of rubber and packaging it with a skimmer, filter, sump pump and tubing, creating a do-it-yourself kit.

It was not long before the word got out on how profitable pond construction was and even professionals were becoming “pond experts”. Why not, if in one day you can dig a hole, pile dirt at one end, cover it with a rubber sheet, cover the sheet with rocks, fill it with water, drop in a sump pump, hook up a tube, and presto change-o, $6000 profit in 6 to 8 hours?

Well, the pioneers had a great thing going, but they made a fatal mistake, they started shouting “gold” and “jackpot”! Soon the rush was on. It is called competition and it came from every angle, manufacturer, supplier, retailer, wholesaler and especially installers.

As would be expected, this get-rich-quick fever turned into an epidemic, forcing up the price of pond liner kits to equal the cost of professional concrete construction. Since this craze started, proponents of liners maligned concrete construction, professing liner superiority over concrete construction. Making false statements about the integrity of reinforced concrete, they have attempted to elevate the benefits of rubber liners.

In searching for the facts about concrete ponds and waterfalls from reading the literature of the greed-driven liner pond industry, it cannot be found. You ask why? Because if the facts were known, who in their right mind would invest in a pond liner unless they were going to use it for a limited period of time.

The track record for pond liners speaks for itself:

More than 40% of all waterfalls will have serious structural damage within the first 3 years of construction.

An incredible 60% of homeowners say they are dissatisfied with the way their waterfall turned out upon completion of the project.

35% of liner ponds and waterfalls are leaking water within nine months of completion for one of several reasons.

65% of “do-it-yourselfers” say they wished they were informed of the pros and cons of liners from the beginning or that they had hired a professional.

These statistics are from the pond liner industry itself. I can confirm and attest to these numbers myself. I have built over 1,900 reinforced concrete waterfalls and ponds over the past 26 years and have ripped out and replaced scores of defective liner ponds and replaced them with concrete ones with lifetime warranties. Just prior to retiring, in August in 2007 I replaced a $276,000 liner pond and waterfall in Rancho Santa Fe, CA with reinforced 3500 psi concrete due to gopher damage! Pond liner installers provide no warranty against damage from rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, tree roots and sharp objects and this one refused to do anything to correct the problem.

Reinforced concrete pondless waterfalls have a lifetime warranty. Liner pondless waterfalls have only a one year warranty on labor, and a 20-30 year warranty against factory defects. But it has no warranty against damage caused by, mice, rats, gophers, tree roots, ground squirrels, sharp objects, etc.

Reinforced concrete pondless waterfalls use high-efficiency, above-ground pumps that are easy to service (3-year warranties).

The 1/3 HP pump is low profile, extremely quiet, and easily hidden with plants next to the falls, or the pumps can be placed in another part of the yard by extending the flexible PVC suction and return lines. The liner pondless waterfall uses a sump pump that is placed in the basin, and then buried with hundreds of pounds of gravel. In order to service this pump (only a 2 year warranty), all the stinky, slimy, rocks need to be first removed from the basin.

The pump in the reinforced concrete pondless waterfall produces 5,900 gallons per hour with a draw of only 350 watts (retail $430). A sump pump is supplied with the liner pondless waterfall kit (they advertise as the “premier” pump on the market ). However it produces 5,600 gal/hour (102 gal. less) at a whopping 912 watts power draw (50% more than an above-ground pump). It costs a whopping $530 more per year to operate (at $.13/kwh). The sump pump costing $600 retail, $175 more than a centrifugal pump. Many liner installers refer to it as “the best warranty in the industry” and it is only for 2?years, as compared to a centrifugal’s 3 year warranty!

The rocks of a reinforced concrete pondless waterfall are all securely mortared in place (covering the concrete shell). Consequently anyone, especially kids, may climb on the rocks without them shifting, possibly causing serious injury. Rocks will move and shift in the liner pondless waterfalls and in just a few months, the unsightly liner is exposed in the falls and the perimeter of the pond.

During construction of the concrete pondless waterfall, many design liberties can be taken, such as altering the length, width or shape of the water feature as the project progresses. Unlike a liner pondless waterfall, the parameters have already been established by the manufacturer of the pond kit.

The concrete pondless waterfall can utilize the large, open basin to install an Aquafill automatic water leveling device. In addition, the basin can be made smaller because the space for water is not taken up by rocks as it is in the liner pondless waterfall basin. The only rock that exists is on top of the galvanized or plastic plank cover.

Wow! Check this out… reinforced concrete waterfalls are
1. secure & stationary;
2. permanent;
3. they will last for decades;
4. Cost less to build;
5. Simple to operate;
6. Simple to clean;
7. Virtually maintenance-free;
8. Three-year pump warranty; and
9. More natural in appearance and less liability. Lemons or apples? You decide!

The liner revolution is fading fast, the truth of their limitations are coming to light and their track record is badly tarnished. Leaky liner customers are fighting back with litigation nationwide and are winning because they were not told the whole truth in the beginning.

Before wasting your hard earned money, do your research and use your own God-given common sense. Begin with the internet by searching “pond liners vs. concrete.

“A man with experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument.”

For more free information and photos go to: Waterfall & Pond Construction Manual – Store Price $49 Now get a PDF download only $14.95 go to:

Douglas C. Hoover; CEO of Aquamedia Corp, Master Waterfall Builder, architect, engineer, freelance writer, author, designer & builder of well over 1,900 waterfall and ponds in CA (26 years). Author of “Waterfall and Pond Construction Manual” and developer of the “Water Feature Digital Design Library 4.0″

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