Can a water feature be sustainable? Well… perhaps a better question is can fountains and water features be designed and built with a nod towards sustainability. Definitely.
Here are few good ideas to make your water feature be a little more “green” in nature. Location and size matter; with the proper site placement, you have an opportunity to reduce the size of your water feature and that means less water volume. A good start is to make sure the water feature is close to your outdoor living spaces and not on the opposite end of your garden. The more integrated your feature is to your outdoor and interior living spaces the larger its impact will be. Experiencing the feature’s sensory offerings like sound and movement becomes easier at close range, and this enables you to have a smaller feature that needs less water volume. Reducing the amount of water means less water will be needed to replenish the recycling water in your feature. A water feature that uses less water is better for our environment.
Even though a water feature relies on water being recycled over and over again, it is not a closed cycle. Evaporation and water splashing outside of the feature result in a large net loss of water which needs replacing. Features with large surface areas of water like large pools lose more water to evaporation. A water feature that does not have a standing pool is subject to less evaporation and will require less water to be replenished. Consider a water feature design that incorporates a reservoir that is hidden making it less susceptible to evaporation. A thoughtful design can create a water feature that minimizes the amount of water that splashes out of the system’s collection area. Both of these design ideas can make a water feature more ecologically friendly by using less water.
By paying attention to the design, location, and size of a water feature you can reduce how much water the feature will need and less is better in this instance.
As your design takes shape, explore opportunities to use recycled material in the construction. Perhaps you can find tile that is left over from another project, maybe you find used bricks offered on Craig’s List, or you do a little clandestine dumpster diving and end up with a unique container or pot that can be incorporated. The only limit is your own daring and imagination.
Are water features and fountains really sustainable? This is a question you should answer for yourself. Water features can add amazing benefits to a landscape, and I believe the presence of a water feature creates a stronger connection to the natural world; a connection that really can improve your quality of life. You must balance the benefits and the environmental costs for yourself, but you can design and construct a great water feature that reduces its impact on our environment and natural resources.