Step 8 - Fill Valve Alternative
Filling your pond manually becomes tedious after a while, especially if you have more than one. There are different ways to create an automatic fill valve for your pond. Most of which are expensive and ineffective. Some may cause damage. Here is my alternative to an automatic fill valve.
If you ever heard of the “toilet bowl trick”, I strongly recommend against it. This technique uses a flush valve kit and it’s not reliable at all. The main problem? Parts of the kit easily get bent and damaged by the natural elements. One has to remember that the elements of nature are unforgiving. The first pond contractor I hired suggested this technique. I was skeptical from the start. The toilet parts floating in the water was also an eyesore.
Avoid the flush valve kit
This lousy contraption lasted about a month. Of course, it completely failed during the night which caused my water to run for several hours. I have no idea how many gallons of water were wasted and couldn’t bring myself to look at the bill. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The toilet bowl trick is not a good idea, take my word for it.
There’s also a way of adding an automatic fill valve with pipes. I didn’t allow my second pond contractor to talk me into this. He wanted $675 for his version of a pond automatic fill valve. An overpriced and unnecessary add-on, I was beginning to feel that he just wanted to make more money.
As you probably guessed, I figured out an easy way to do it myself. Cheap and effective, with little to no maintenance. With the flick of a switch, four of my ponds fill with water.
My alternative to an automatic fill valve
I came up with an answer to an automatic fill valve by utilizing common sense. In actuality, it’s manual, and not automatic but super easy!
It’s helpful to have control over how much water I use and exactly when I choose to fill the ponds. My first two ponds are on a lower level lay close to the house. I fill these ponds with a garden hose as needed. Topping them off occurs weekly during dry spells. I use a special filter to remove the chlorine and other impurities which makes the water safe for fish and beneficial bacteria.
On the upper level, I have a network of four ponds that are all connected to the same water source. Luckily, I already had a water spigot in the area. I only used heavy-duty garden hoses which I buried underground. The main hose connects to a two-way sprocket hose valve.
The first hose feeds the bass pond while the second hose leads to a four-way valve splitter hose adapter. At this location, I have three hoses connected to my three remaining ponds. This leaves me with an extra valve to spare. Each pond has its own switch to turn the water on and off from. Both valve splitters are above ground while the hoses are safely buried.
Bury and hide the hose
I simply dug a shallow trench about four inches deep to bury the hoses. Bury them deep enough in the ground for their protection. If a hose is too close to the surface, you may hit it with the lawnmower. If that happens, you’re going to have to buy another hose. While it’s best to do it right the first time, changing out a hose is easier than changing a pipe. I’ve also had no problems with animals messing with the hoses.
Easy and convenient
This way of filling the ponds makes my life a lot easier. I don’t have to drag a hose from pond to pond and with a flick of the switch, I’ve filled four of my ponds. In my opinion, doing it manually is the way to go.
Too many mistakes can happen when filling ponds automatically. Monitoring water usage is another plus when filling ponds. Just don’t forget to turn the water off after the pond is full. That’s pretty much the only mistake one can make when filling a pond in this fashion. It’s also a good idea to close all the splitter valves. If a valve isn’t closed, water gets sucked back down through the hose traveling back down to the main spigot.
Inline garden hose filter
Don’t forget your inline garden hose filter if you have chlorinated water! These filters are really nice. They last a long time and are reasonably priced. I paid $40 and it should last around eight months. I only use the filter when filling up the pond and unhook it for anything else. When filling, avoid pumping the water pressure up to full-blast. Instead, allow the water to come out slowly so better filtration takes place. It may take a little longer to fill, but it’s worth the extra time.
WATCH THIS: Inline water filter
City water harbors bacteria-killing chemicals which destroy the beneficial bacteria of your ecosystem. This leads to cloudy water, or nasty algae bloom. Using water from a well is another option although they tend to need more maintenance than city water hook-ups. I guess it depends on where you live. In Florida, red imported fire ants cause electrical shortages by nesting in the well-pump.
I’m sure you’re curious about the amount of water usage when owning multiple ponds. I’ll put it into perspective. Last spring, my neighbor reprogrammed his lawn sprinklers to turn on two times at night. While he’s not sure how long the sprinklers were on for, he received a warning from the water company. Soon after that, he received a water bill for over $200. He has since corrected the problem (as you probably can imagine).
With a total of six ponds, I have never received a water bill for more than $40. Not even when the water accidentally ran the entire night due to the faulty flush valve kit. Topping the ponds off once a week really hasn’t been a problem. Wet weather patterns have been dominating ever since constructing my ponds. All six of them lasted the entire summer of 2018 without being topped off once. Eventually, drought conditions will return and I’m concerned about it.
Digging a well
One option is to dig a well and I’m seriously considering it. At the present time, I’m unable to convince my wife that we need to drill a well. She feels that since the water bill is low, there’s no reason to spend the extra money. The problem with wives is that they don’t see long-term. When a severe drought occurs and water restrictions begin, I’ll probably spend the money to have a well installed. I just hope we never experience a drought like the one California.