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Water Displays Overview Basic Rules

Water Displays Overview Basic Rules

To design the hydraulics system for a fountain with moving or active water, a very firm idea must be developed as to how the fountain will look, and the appearance it is supposed to have. To assist in this creative process, we present below six different types of water displays. These types of water displays need not be strictly separated from each other, there are mixed forms and combinations of different types, but if one just wants to utilize the possible combinations, then he should be aware of the differences. Every water feature displays its optical and acoustical appeal against the background of its environment, be it an element of the garden, a park, or town landscape. The designer must take this into account. From the typology follows

the technology, Pond & Lake Inc. can assist you in the design of your fountain project. First, there is an introduction to the simple construction principals of a fountain unit and a summary of the OASE range of components, then a description of the most important construction variations with their typical advantages and disadvantages Finally, the operation and performance of centrifugal pumps is explained. If you take note of the ten basic rules mentioned on this page, you will avoid the bad mistakes which are repeatedly encountered in practice, If there is creative fantasy in a confident interrelationship with the engineering, very attractive, enduring fountain units or water displays are a certainty.

Spary height



The ten most Important basic rules

  1. Not under trees:
    Fallen leaves, insects and bird droppings contaminate the water and can clog up the suction filters in the pumping system.
  2. Not exposed to high winds:
    Unfavorable wind conditions disturb the desired water pattern and can take the water in the fountains over the edge of the basin Height of water columns/jet should not be greater than the distance to the nearest edge of the basin.
  3. Water-saving basin depth:
    To reduce water use during changes required for cleaning the basin and prevent accidents to children, the basin and thus the water depth, should be kept as shallow as possible (typically 16 to 18 inches).
  4. Protection by cover gratings:
    The cavities in the fountain basin. which are necessary for accommodating the equipment should be covered by gratings,
  5. Overflow/outlet to the drain:
    For easy emptying and cleaning of the fountain basin an overflow/outlet to the drainage should always be provided.
  6. Freshwater supply:
    A permanently installed freshwater pipe with automatic topping up and pump drive running safety device should always be provided, especially for public installations,
  7. Securing the power supply cables:
    Power supply cables should be installed in underwater junction boxes; this is essential for public installations.
  8. Selecting the correct pump:
    Fountain pumps are subject to heavy endurance requirements and therefore, must be specially prepared for their intended application,
  9. Selecting the correct electrical:
    The electrical must be matched to the pumps and lighting circuits and be provided with the special protective and safety equipment (GFCI) for fountain installations.
  10. Protection during winter:
    Precautionary measures for the winter should be taken at the planning stage, Above all, it must be possible to protect the pumps from frost by removal if necessary.

The Art of Water Display

(small fountains)

Small fountains today, almost anyone can afford or find space to enjoy a small fountain or waterfall display. Depending on your taste and what space you have, fountains are available for the garden, the patio, or even indoors, in your home. The choice covers numerous variations from a complete range of fountains, and also includes items such as garden pools, pond liners, submerged pumps and underwater lighting, together with a host of fittings combinable at will to create a truly personalized water display. Outdoors, in the garden or elsewhere, pools are usually set in the ground. For safety and children’s sake, the water surface should be guarded by a galvanized steel screen or grating. For patios and living areas, decorative arrangements are available in wood or ceramic. Pebbles, volcanic rock and plants lend a distinctive touch to these fountains. Outdoor water displays are designed either as free-standing units or to be placed on a table or windowsill. Not only do they have a decorative and soothing effect, but they also make a dramatic improvement in room atmosphere. None of these fountains require a continuous water supply. The basin or reservoir is simply filled with water and the pump, usually a submerged motorized unit, circulates the water to a fountain, a sculpted figure or a waterfall, where it pours back into the container, ready for a new cycle.


The Art of Water Display

(water sculptures and spouts)

As an alternative to a fountain or to complement and enliven an arrangement – figures and gargoyles are available as water inlets or outlets. Basic operation of a water sculpture is the same as for a fountain. A water basin or reservoir is required, from which a circulating (fountain pump) sends water along a hose or other suitable duct to the water sculpture or inlet. From the spout, water must then be conveyed back to the reservoir. to ensure that the closed-circuit system functions continuously A distinction should be made between traditional gargoyles frequently adorning old village and town fountains, and waterspouts of more modern style which are often integrated and completely free

from any protruding grated into various sculptured designs or sharp edges, to form a living part of a work of art. Animal sculpture with integral waterspouts are becoming increasingly popular for home use. Besides the more common simple figures such as ducks. frogs, etc., the choice now extends to artistic wildlife representations. with built-in spout made of reconstituted stone and bronze, When choosing sculptures and waterspouts, care should be taken to ensure that their style. color and size integrates well with the overall setting, And if children have access to the arrangement, sculptures should be quite sturdy

Fountains and Water Displays

The design options for fountains and water displays are multitudinous. There are practically no limits placed on the artist and designer. However, three main areas can easily be defined. On one, there are installations in which the element water plays the dominating role and the practical, sculptural design follows behind, in another, those in which the artistic design and formation of the fountain is of central importance and the water has only a supporting function. The third and main area is formed by any installation in which the water and the known design play an almost equal role and mutually reinforces each other in its effect. The more individually fountains and water displays are designed, the more important it is in the planning to concern oneself with the hydraulics; under calculated water volumes or incorrectly dimensioned components and leads make the

installation defective for its whole life. Previously, fountains and water displays were supplied and operated from springs or drinking water systems; once the water passed through the system, it was lost. Almost exclusively to-day, re circulating systems are employed. Once a basin is filled, the water is used over a longer period and re circulated again and again by means of the systems pump. Only after it is contaminated is the water drained off, the fountain unit cleaned and refilled. The intervals between water changes can be substantially extended by using a filtration system. Water loss due to evaporation or splash, is usually replaced automatically from the drinking water system. The pumps used are either submersible motor pumps or dry-mounted centrifugal pumps which are installed in a pump chamber or in a cellar.

Water Displays / Watercourse Installations

Watercourse installations are usually copies from Nature, but are also, sometimes quite consciously conceived as, concrete stepped installations. The principle is always that water has to flow from a source at a higher level over a more or less long and winding water course – to a lake. pool or water basin. An important aspect in this. is the enrichment of the water with oxygen. The widths of the watercourse can vary considerably – at its widest points a uniformly thin film water flow should be provided. The result is that, at the narrowest points of the watercourse, thicker sheets of water form and the side edges must be shaped deeper, In addition to the watercourse width, the geodetic delivery head

(difference in height between the lower water level and the upper supply point of the source) is of decisive importance for the design of the pump. The pump forces the water from the lower water reservoir through a pressure pipe to the upper source. The supply can take place almost imperceptibly as a still source or bubbling vigorously by means of foam-effect nozzles.


  • For optimum circulation. water suction point in the lower reservoir should be arranged to face inlet from stream. .
  • Edges should be built up along narrow sections of the stream. .
  • Ensure pump is correctly sized.

Water Display / Waterfall Arrangements

A curtain of water tumbling down to form a waterfall can have varying widths and heights, As the thickness of the water film depends on these two factors, so will the quantity of water that the pump is required to circulate. Water is pumped by a concealed unit from a lower basin, through one or more pressure lines, into a trough with a shaped overflow, the width and height of which determine the pattern of the waterfall. Most arrangements require an adjustable lip at the beginning of the overflow and a “weir” edge on the other side, With wide waterfalls, the lip should be adjusted perfectly level to prevent the water film from breaking up It is also important that leaves and dirt do not collect on either the “fall-away” or lip,

This can be prevented by a cover, Arrangements frequently combine fountains with waterfalls, with a succession of basins placed on intermediate pedestals one above the other and getting smaller in diameter as they get higher. Water, fed into the top basin, flows in steps down to the lower, larger basins, resulting in a neatly proportioned display of constant water curtains.


  • Trough should be adequately dimensioned.
  • Lip and weir edge should be kept clean.
  • Avoid sitting under trees (leaves and twigs).
  • Try to protect from wind.
  • Ensure pump is correctly sized.


Water Fountains / Fountain Installations

Basic fountains are generally single water columns to varying heights with the column diameter of the appropriate thickness. In addition, there are groups of nozzles which can be combined in one multi-jet head from several individual nozzles – either of equal height vertically staggered. closely “bunched” or widely spread out. The height and the “throw” radius of the jets require a correspondingly large water area and depth. The general rule is – the fountain should not be higher than the distance between nozzle and the nearest edge of the basin, An artificially constructed basin. a pond or lake, a dammed-up and unmoving river course, a lagoon,
or even a quiet ocean bay can be used as the water reservoir. In cases where water levels are not constant or in the case of greater water depths – floating installations are usually constructed In other cases concrete columns or concrete platforms are created in the water for mounting fountain attachments, submersible motor pumps

attachments, submersible motor pumps and lights. Depending on the requirements, the Comet, Geiser, Cascade, “Special” full jet or a hollow-jet nozzle are suitable as fountain attachments. The supply to the nozzle attachment or group of nozzle attachments is made either with submersible motor pumps directly in the water or, with a pressure pipe and a pump dry mounted in a sump/pit close to the bank. In the case of very high fountain heights, which require extra large motor outputs, special transformer stations are often necessary adjacent to the installation. To enable the fountain height to be adapted to the prevailing winds, there are automatic controls available. Because of the special problems connected with high fountains, the advice. planning and services of experienced specialists is essential. OASE manu” fractures nozzles and attachments for jet heights of over 100 meters.

Technology of Fountain Structure
Construction Principles and Structural Components

The construction principles of fountain technology arise from the desired objective. It always involves putting water into motion in order to produce a beautiful, eye-catching water pattern. To achieve this, adequate quantities of water must first be available. In the ideal case, a natural water reservoir in the form of a pond or lake will be available, Usually, however, a water reservoir must be constructed artificially and be filled from public water supply. Larger basins are mostly of concrete or brick, but there are also ready made basins of considerable size made from fiberglass or similar synthetics. Lakes and ponds are mostly modeled as more or less deep hollows in the ground and sealed with a membrane of bitumen or clay Once the matter of the water reservoir is settled, there is the question of the movement of the water and the water display The water movement can consist of a single, hardly perceptible, flow of water flowing water in the form of a stream, a spring, a mult-jet fountain, a transparent water bell, a powerful high fountain, or a rushing waterfall. Under the heading ‘Typology” the basic variants are described in detail. If the designer has decided on a certain

water pattern and therefore on a certain nozzle or nozzle combination, the selection of the “driving force” the fountain pump, then follows. The simplest solution is to use a submersible motor pump directly in the basin. The most important criteria for selecting the pump Is its power and efficiency – How much water can it force-over? What period at which height? – Its corrosion resistance and endurance characteristics, With these three main elements – the water reservoir, the fountain attachment and pump – a fully serviceable fountain installation can be provided. It is important with any fountain installation that these three main elements have an appropriate and harmonious relationship to each other. The size and form of the water pattern should be adapted to the shape and size of the basin. The fountain attachment ultimately selected determines the necessary water and pressure requirements. The pump selected results from the two requirements last mentioned. All other components of a fountain installation should enhance its appearance, simplify its operation and maintenance, and automate certain sequences.

Submersible pump fountain design

Fountain Components (submersible pump)

Fountain design Components

1 – Basin

Larger fountains and water displays, massive basins of concrete and stone should only be considered after due consultation with the fountain engineer, He can give important advice on the proportions and dimensions and design requirements. For example, the maximum achievable height of any water jet shall not exceed the shortest distance of that jet’s base from the nearest edge of the basin. The basin depth or water depth shall be the minimum practical to reduce water usage and cleaning the basin and for prevention of accidents. The required equipment will need to be accommodated at an appropriate depth, preferably in a formed sump which must be covered with gratings. The anticipated equipment system must be taken into account at the planning and design stages.

2 – Pump Chamber

If the pump is to be dry mounted, a separate pump chamber is necessary. Since normal suction pumps are usually used, installation below the basin water level is advisable, it is therefore often necessary to build the pump chamber into the ground, Cellars if suitable, can also be used to house the pump equipment.

3 – Fountain and Nozzle Attachment

The fountain fitting models the water to create definite shapes and movements. Sculptures and simple spouts are also included in this group.

4 – Fountain Pump

The fountain pump is the driving force at the heart of the fountain unit. The pump type must be suited to the intended use (wet or dry mounting). The pumping capacity results from the water and pressure consumption of the fountain attachment used, less the friction losses of the pipe work and water distributor.

5 – Suction Filter

The suction filter mounted at the inlet of the suction pipe prevents the ingress of dirt in to the pump – nozzle circulation system. To achieve sufficiently long cycles (interval between cleanings), the suction filter should have an appropriately large filter area. Several suction filters can also be connected in parallel,There are suction filters for different nominal bores with corresponding filter areas.

6 – Basin Base Inlet

The base inlet is for the water tight entry of suction and pressure pipes through the basin base. It is made from highly corrosion – resistant material, such as stainless steel or bronze, It should be firmly cast in concrete with its concrete seal flange.

7 – Suction Pipe

The suction pipe serves the dry-mounted centrifugal pump for the suction of the water out of the fountain basin or water reservoir. It should be adequately dimensioned in accordance with the volumetric delivery of the pump. The flow speed in the suction pipe should not exceed 6 ft/sec.

8 – Wall Inlet

In principle the wall inlet fulfils the same function as the basin base inlet. Since there is no water pressure as with pump chamber or cellar wall inlets, the demands are of course not so high. Plastic inlets are often sufficient in this instance.

9 – Shutdown / Regulating

From the point of view of construction, the shutdown and regulating valves are generally the same. Fitted in the pressure pipe they serve for throttling the water volume or the fountain height if the pump is dismantled, they shut off the suction and pressure pipe and so make unnecessary a complete emptying of the basin and system Suction pipe valves should always remain fully open when the unit is operating.

10 – Pressure Pipe

The pressure pipe serves for transporting the water delivered from the pump to an outlet, fountain attachment or nozzle combination. It should be adequately dimensioned in accordance with the volumetric delivery of the pump, The flow speed of 10 ft/sec. should not be exceeded.

11 – Water Distributor

In principle the water distributor divides the flow delivered from the pressure pipe into several partial flows The volume of the water distributor should not be designed too small, Regulating valves can be provided at the outlets of the water distributor to enable different large partial flows or fountain heights to be adjusted.

Fountain Components (dry pump)

Dry Pump Application

12 – Overflow / Drain FittIng

The overflow / drain fitting is a type of stand-pipe valve, With the stand pipe inserted it allows excess basin water (rainwater) to exit through the overflow crown into the drain. The basin is emptied when the stand pipe is removed The overflow / drain fitting is the best value solution for achieving overflow and drainage.

13 – Floor Drain with Dirt Screen

The floor drain, combined with a drain valve, serves for draining the basin, It is frequently used with a wall-mounted combined fitting. The screwed on dirt screen prevents coarse debris getting into the drain pipe.

14 – Overflow Wall-Mounted
Combination Fitting

The overflow wall-mounted combination fitting is concreted into the vertical wall of fountain basins. It serves for carrying away the rainwater, for filling and refilling, with freshwater, and for mounting a water-level sensor.

15 – Freshwater Inlet Fitting

The fresh water inlet fitting for concreting into the base of fountain basins, serves for feeding and refilling fresh water. This should be sized to suit prevailing water regulations.

16 – Overflow / Drain Pipe

The overflow / drain pipe, combined with the overflow / drain fitting, serves for carrying away overflow and rain water to the channel.

17 – Overflow Pipe

The overflow pipe, combined with the wall mounted combination fitting, serves for carrying away the overflow water (rainwater) to the channel.

18 – Drain Pipe

The drain pipe, combined with the floor drain and the drain valve, serves for carrying away the basin water during the draining.

19 – Fresh water Inlet Pipe

The freshwater inlet pipe, combined with the freshwater inlet fitting or the overflow wall mounted combination fitting, serves for filling the basin and for refilling the evaporated water In public installations, refilling the evaporated water is usually ensured via an automatic electronic water-level monitoring device.

20 – Solenoid Valve

The solenoid valve is controlled by the electronic water-level monitoring device and in its open state serves for refilling the fountain.

21 – Cable Entry Fitting

The cable entry fitting for concreting into the basin base or basin wall of fountain basins etc. at the end of the cable duct. It serves for the watertight insertion of electrical rubber cables.

22 – Cable Duct / Conduit

The cable duct / conduit prevents mechanical damage to the cable. Combined with the cable entry fitting. It allows easy insertion and changing of electrical rubber-sheathed cables for the electrical supply to the electric components.

23 – Underwater Cable Terminal

The underwater cable terminal connector is the connection and separate element in the electrical supply line, It allows easy connection and disconnection from the electric components.

24 – Cable Protective Rail

The cable protective rail serves for safe and proper laying of the electrical leads in the basin.

25 – Underwater Lights

By using underwater lights it is guaranteed that fountain installations are shown to good effect in the evening and night-time hours also-often more effective than during the day. Additional effects can be produced with color filters and color animation.

26 – Electrical Controls and Switches

The electrical controls and switch gear is the switching and control center of the fountain installation. It contains all components necessary for electrical safety, protection of persons, for equipment protection and for the automatic switching on and off of the pump and the illumination.

27 – Cover Grate

The cover grate serves for covering the cavity required for accommodating the submersed equipment. It also prevents direct contact with the electrically operated equipment.

Fountain Structures (structural variations)

This section deals with the most frequent and important variations of the fountain structure. It does not lay claim to completeness or degree of urgency. It’s intention rather is to illustrate various methods of achieving the objective so that the most suitable for the respective case can be selected. The illustrations are for the purpose of guidance only. In view of the complexities of design and construction of water retaining structures, this is best left to the experts. Only they can provide the data and design advices regarding foundations, reinforcement, weathering qualities, frost resistance, material selection etc.
The planning of fountain hydraulics and engineering belongs In the hands of the experts and should be left to those who have been trained specifically on fountain and water display design. Incorrect dimensioning for and of the components, conduits, cables etc often have serious consequences which cannot always be corrected later. Thus, for example, selecting the correct pumps and pipe work has a direct influence on the subsequent energy costs. Sensible dimensioning of the fountain basins and water reservoirs has a considerable influence on the regularity and recurring costs of water changing. If this chapter can contribute to the thinking process” and help to eliminate design errors, then we will have achieved our objective.

Simple Fountain

Above: Most simple type of fountain unit by means of a submersible motor-driven pump.
Advantages: Little expenditure. Low costs

  • Relatively large basin depth.
  • Hazard for small children.
  • High water changing costs.
  • High cleaning expenditure since no drainage.
  • Engineering fully visible Ungraceful appearance.
  • Risk of accidents since cable and pump directly accessible.

Option: Overflow/drain fitting, freshwater supply fitting, cable inlet fitting, underwater illumination, electrical controls, water level control equipment

Fountain Design 2

Above: Better appointed type of fountain unIt by means of a submersible motor-driven pump

  • Low water depth at the perimeter.
  • Low water volume.
  • System under grate cover.
  • No risk of accidents.
  • More graceful appearance.
  • Well-appointed due to built-in fittings for drainage, overflow and cable entry.

Disadvantage: High expenditure for basin, fittings and leads

Option: Freshwater supply fitting, underwater illumination, electrical controls, electronic water level control equipment.

Above: Most simple type of fountain unit with dry-mounted centrifugal pump

  • Relatively little expenditure.
  • Relatively low costs, since appointed fittings not used.
  • No pump dismantling for winter.


  • Relatively large water depth Hazard for small children.
  • High water changing costs.
  • High cleaning expenditure since no drainage.
  • System partly visible.
  • Ungraceful appearance.

Overflow/drain fitting, fresh water supply fitting, underwater illumination, cable inlet, electrical controls, electronic water-level control equipment.

Above: Better appointed fountain pump with dry-mounted centrifugal pump.

  • Low water depth at perimeter.
  • Low water volume.
  • System under grate control.
  • No risk of accidents.
  • More graceful appearance.
  • Well-appointed due to built-in fittings for overflow and drainage.
  • Pump protected in pump chamber.

Higher expenditure for basin, pump chamber, fittings and leads.

Fresh water supply fitting, underwater illumination, cable inlet, electrical controls, electronic water level control equipment.

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