I don’t have to sell you on outdoor fountains. They’re beautiful and make for an elegant, attractive garden area. However, one concern many homeowners have is the amount of water their units are continuously spewing out.
It makes sense — not only does increased usage mean more water bills, but it can also increase the maintenance burden you feel.
Whether you care deeply about the environment, want to reduce your water footprint, or simply save some cash, let’s learn how to conserve water for your outdoor water fountain.
How much water are you losing from your fountain?
First, let’s explore how much water you’re losing from your outdoor fountain. While this depends on a few different variables, we can make a few assumptions about your fountain to make things simple.
Assuming a small to mid-size fountain, a moderate climate, direct sunlight, and 24/7 fountain operation, your fountain will lose about a gallon per day to evaporation. This isn’t a hard law, but a decent rule of thumb.
Effect of Temperature
Naturally, if you have a hot, dry climate, you’ll lose more water per day. More humidity and you’ll lose less from evaporation. The water in your fountain will still evaporate in colder climates as well, but at a much slower rate.
Many folks wonder if you lose more water to evaporation if you keep your fountain running. Unfortunately, yes — continually running a water fountain will cause the water to evaporate more quickly. While this isn’t great news, it leaves some low-hanging fruit for how to reduce losses.
Evaluating the Type of Spray
If you have a spray fountain (as opposed to a trickle fountain), you’re going to lose more water to evaporation. It makes logical sense: if the water is beset on all sides by moving air, it’s going to evaporate more quickly than if it’s only exposed on one side.
Re-considering a Self-Filling System
If you’ve purchased an auto-filling system for your fountain (like this), you may have trapped yourself in an evaporative feedback loop and not even realized it. These systems are built to refill your fountain as it loses water, so you might not even know you have an evaporation problem!
Try disabling the self-filling system for a couple of days and see what happens.
Don’t Forget the Wind
Wind can cause as much water evaporation as the sun for your outdoor fountain. Make no mistake; the windier the area, the more water you’ll lose.
Keep fountain water from evaporating
Now that we’ve explored the different ways your fountain is losing water, let’s outline some quick tips on how to keep your water fountain water from evaporating.
Add some shade
Adding some shade to your outdoor space will go a long way in keeping your fountain water from drying up. You can achieve this by growing shade-friendly plants or installing a pergola near the fountain.
Perennials, grasses, waterside shrubs, and even certain types of fencing also go a long way in reducing the amount of wind that hits your water fountain. It can also make the area around your fountain a lot more attractive.
Turn your fountain off
Remember to turn your water fountain pump off when not in use — this can be when you leave the house, go to sleep, or simply aren’t using your outdoor space.
During the California water crisis, this bloke actively measured how much more water his fountain used when turned on. It was a non-trivial amount!
Change the type of fountain pump
Instead of a spray fountain, consider installing a trickle pump instead. This will naturally reduce the amount of water lost from evaporation. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t always possible. It’s best to make this decision during the purchase process.
Regularly Check For Leaks
We’ve discussed all of the ways your fountain can lose water due to evaporation. However, leaks can be an even greater nuisance to keeping your fountain from drying out. Check the surface of the fountain many times per season to make sure it’s watertight.
Additionally, winterizing your fountain will go a long way to make sure your fountain won’t incur any new leaks. Taking the extra time is almost always worth it.
How do I measure how much water my fountain is losing?
To measure how much water your fountain is losing, simply take a sharpie marker and make a small mark at the top of the waterline. After a few days, measure how much water is gone. Multiplying the area of your fountain by this measurement will give you how much water you lost for those days.
Dividing that number by the number of days will give you your daily measurement.
Do fountains really waste that much water?
As I stated above, a standard fountain under standard conditions can lose about a gallon of water per day. This isn’t a huge amount of water lost, but during a drought every little bit helps.
Ignoring the waste, it can also be a pain to replenish your fountain’s water every week. Although this can also be solved with the aforementioned auto-fill system.