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2014 Editions (July-December)

2014/12.2, December 17 — Vanishing-Edge Errors, Pond Grooming, Hot Pool Lights and more

December 17, 2014


Edgy Issues

Beyond doubt, vanishing-edge pools can be spectacular. But as Scott Cohen reports, there are some all-too-common design defects that can lead to a variety of distracting performance issues — and some of these problems aren’t so easy to address! [more]


Envisioned Environment

It’s always his goal to make his frog ponds look as though they’ve been there forever, says Eric Triplett. But as he discusses in this video, it can be tough to hold onto that clear vision through some of the messier, muddier parts of the installation process. [more]


Burning Sensations

They’re so common that they’re easy to ignore. As Paolo Benedetti points out, however, the incandescent lights so often found in pools and spas can pose a special hazard to certain swimmers — a problem he recommends overcoming by switching to ‘cooler’ technology. [more]


Affairs of the Art

Completing projects of singular beauty for high-end clients is a passion for Arizona watershaper Steve Oliver, and those clients return the favor by granting him a tremendous level of creative freedom. That’s surely the situation with the watershape seen here, where Oliver has sifted through a range of rich and contrasting elements to create a composition that’s as much a work of art as it is a pleasant place to go swimming.

This article, originally published in October 2003, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Tale of the Tortoise

While visiting Rome many years ago, Jim McCloskey saw a fountain that seemed familiar — and before long he remembered seeing the same oddly placed tortoises in a park in San Francisco. Either fountain merits a visit — even without the special déjà vu moment. [more]


A Rippling Departure

They say all good things must come to an end. But given the instrumental role Ripples has played in the WaterShapes newsletter from the start, writes Jim McCloskey, seeing it’s last installment in this newsletter is making him unusually nostalgic. [more]

Ripples Says Farewell!
An Encore Presentation of the
Top Ten Ripples Items of All Time


Designing a New Paradigm (Part 2)
Back in 1999, a meeting in Ohio brought together professionals with varied perspectives on how backyard environments come together. Here’s a look at another part of their roundtable discussion. [more]


Bobé Water & Fire Features Offers Fire Bowls

Bobé Water & Fire Features (Phoenix, AZ) has introduced the Builder Series of decorative bowls. Combining water and fire into a single design, the cost-effective units come in copper or stainless steel and in various sizes for design flexibility and are available with keyed gas valves, push-button spark ignitions or 24-volt automatic ignitions. For details, click here.

Acrylic Pool Windows from Hammerhead International

Hammerhead International (Las Vegas, NV) offers acrylic viewing panels in many shapes and sizes for use in swimming pools. The units can be made to match anything from the most complicated negative edge wall radius to the simplest pool window. They’re also translucent enough to provide unique ambient lighting in adjacent indoor spaces. For details, click here.



Groundbreaking First: Black Woman
Wins World Swimming Title in Doha

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. Alia Atkinson, who competed in the recent international short-course championships in Doha, Qatar, became the first black woman to garner a world swimming title (a gold medal in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke). What country, according to, did she represent in Doha?

a. Jamaica b. Haiti c. Dominica d. Dominican Republic

2. Officers in a police helicopter in one South American country were shocked when they spotted a large swastika at the bottom of a homeowner’s pool. In which country did say this took place?

a. Uruguay b. Paraguay c. Argentina d. Brazil.

3. A 7-year-old boy in Queensland, Australia, on a swimming outing with his schoolmates, was dismayed when he came out of the dressing room at a municipal pool and realized the teachers and his fellow students had left him behind. What, according to, happened next?

a. Police officers in a passing patrol car spotted the lad — who was crying — walking along a
road. They picked him up and brought him to the local police station.
b. A passing motorist spotted the lad — who was crying — walking along a road. She picked
him up, brought him to her house and notified the school and his parents.
c. The boy spent the night in a nearby park, while his parents and others frantically searched
for him.
d. The boy called 000, the Australian equivalent of 911, and his parents came and picked him

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/12.1, December 3 — Buried Artistry, Frog-Friendly Planting, Spa Finesse and more

December 3, 2014


Burying Masterpieces

With watershapes, observes Jim Wilder, the beauty often often runs much more than skin deep. To illustrate, he discusses twin works of the plumber’s art — with, by his calculation, more than 750 glue joints each — that he knew would ultimately be hidden within tons of concrete. [more]


Ecosystem Design

If a pond is to be an ideal haven for frogs, there’s no more important part of the installation process than plant selection. But while you’re focused on the needs of tadpoles and mature frogs, says Eric Triplett, you also want to make the watershape look great as well. [more]


Spa Strategies

Spas and swimming pools are obvious and frequent companions, notes Lew Akins. As he discusses in this video, there are two key factors for clients to consider in adding a spa to a pool — plus an even bigger issue that watershapers need to manage with all due care. [more]


Restoring Waters Past

The restoration of historic swimming pools is one of the most specialized of all watershaping activities, observes engineer and commercial pool designer William N. Rowley. It’s work that requires patience and technical prowess in addition to sensitivity to an old pools’ special needs — a process this veteran of several such projects defines through the ongoing story of the restoration of a southern California pool with a fabulous pedigree.

This article, originally published in June 2006, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Where the Bison Swim

Collegiate athletic centers are increasingly important to students’ lifestyles, report Edwin M. Wallover III and

William R. B. McCullough. The trend calls for design flexibility — and resulted in this instance in a spectacular aquatic center you can visit at Bucknell University. [more]


Channeling Insights

A few weeks back, Jim McCloskey heard from a past contributor to WaterShapes who had a cool idea — and the result, he writes, will ultimately be a book for professionals and skillful do-it-yourselfers who need solid information on the design and installation of fountains. [more]

Training for London 2012 . . .
‘Touch the Wall’: Missy Franklin, Kara Lynn Joyce Swim on Film


Designing a New Paradigm (Part 1)
15 years ago, five education-oriented watershapers representing both the pool and landscape trades sat down to share their views on an emerging ‘philosophy of design.’ Here’s one key part of their discussion. [more]


Poolstones by Sofikitis Releases 2014-15 Catalog

Poolstones by Sofikitis (Monterey, CA) has published a catalog covering its current collection of stone copings, drain grates and paving materials. Available in print and digital formats, the 96-page, full-color volume includes photos and detailed specifications for using the company’s products in designing and building residential or commercial watershapes. For details, click here.

S.R. Smith Launches the iStar Lighting System Controller

S.R. Smith (Canby, OR) has introduced the iStar controller to give users advanced color control and dimming options with the company’s Treo or Color Light Stream products. Designed for use with a water-resistant remote or with a smart phone, the device can operate up to 10 lighting units and comes programmed with six color options and two color shows. For details, click here.



In Hot Water: High School Teacher
Drags Screaming Student into Pool

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. Web site reports that a Stockton, Calif., male physical-education teacher is in hot water after he dragged a kicking and screaming 14-year-old female student into the school swimming pool — a disturbing incident that was captured on video. Why did the girl not want to get into the pool?

a. She suffers from a severe allergy to chlorine.
b. Her religious beliefs do not allow mixed-gender swimming.
c. She has a long history of being a troublemaker in school.
d. She’d had her hair done for a big event later in the day.

2. Even though more than 600 days remain until the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, two countries have already expressed displeasure over the scheduled 10 p.m. start of evening swimming finals. One of the countries contends the hour was pushed back to accommodate the television audience in the U.S. Which two countries are unhappy with the schedule?

a. France and Italy b. Australia and New Zealand
c. Russia and China d. South Africa and Nigeria.

3. In early October, thieves made off with a $25,000, 16-by-8-foot swim spa from a dealership in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. According to, the crime has yet to be solved. What two pieces of equipment did the thieves reportedly use in their brazen caper?

a. Forklift and trailer b. Crane and trailer
c. Bulldozer and trailer d. None of the above.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/11.2, November 19 — Lifting Pool Floors, Pleasing Frogs, Impalas in Flight and more

November 19, 2014


Raising the Floor

Many renovation projects include lifting the floor of an old pool to make it possible to play games such as volleyball, notes Scott Cohen. So it’s a good idea to know what’s really involved in the process — and how to avoid the serious errors he describes in this article. [more]


An Eye on Aesthetics

The shallowness of a frog pond leaves the installer with real challenges when it comes to achieving a naturalistic appearance. As Eric Triplett demonstrates in this video, the key is taking your time to make the rockwork look as though Mother Nature had a hand in the result. [more]


Kinetic Wonder

On a trip to see something else at the Philadelphia Zoo, Jim McCloskey happened on a fountain and sculpture that perfectly captured the energy of its subject matter — and grabbed far more of his attention than did the original, alarmingly large object of his visit. [more]


Continental Class

Teamwork is about different things on different projects, say Martha and Randy Beard. As contractors who often work in the construction of watershapes conceived by top-flight architects, landscape architects and designers, they sometimes simply follow a plan. In the project covered here, however, their involvement was much broader — and reflects their ability to step up and participate as valued members of the design team.
This article, originally published in April 2006, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Pond Perfection

The ‘pond craze’ may spell opportunity for watershapers, notes Rick Anderson, but a hot market can become too attractive, drawing in operators who lack the skills needed to do quality work. What he suggests is stepping back and reviewing the keys to getting things right. [more]


Updated Wisdom

Back in the early days of the WaterShapes web site, Jim McCloskey helped prepare a series of extremely practical (and unusually revealing) articles that helped define the site’s potential. Here’s a look at those articles — and at the premiere of a new set of ‘Lessons Learned.’ [more]

‘In the Pool . . . I Feel Liberated’
Swimming: Keeping Oldsters Going Despite Their Infirmities


Feeling Right at Home

Hitting the road is a great idea, observed Stephanie Rose in her Natural Companions column from ten years ago this month. Here’s a look at why she sees so much value in fresh perspectives. [more]


Custom Molded Products Offers Sultan’s Jet Systems

Custom Molded Products (Newman, GA) is distributing the JetArray Inline Therapy Jet by Sultan Products. Designed for use in inground concrete pools and spas, the units have no moving parts, can be attached in series and can handle flows of 55 gpm (but can work effectively at 18 gpm) in providing either hydrotherapy action or a swim current. For details, click here.

Waterway Plastics Releases 2015 Catalog

Waterway Plastics (Oxnard, CA) has published its pool/spa product catalog for 2015. The 336-page compendium includes photographs, line drawings and specifications for the company’s full line of hydraulic components — from pumps, filters and air systems to valves, fittings, jets and unions. There’s also warranty and replacement-part information. For details, click here.



Swimming Coach Sells Her House
And Car to Build Pool for City’s Kids

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. Veteran swim coach Sarah Bates recently sold her own house and car to help finance construction of a community pool for the kids in her town — a pool that has been a longtime dream of hers. Where does Sarah live?

a. Bisbee (USA) b. Temora (Australia) c. Whitehorse (Canada) d. Derby (U.K.)

2. According to, Hamad International Airport (HIA) has opened a new spa that boasts, among other things, a 25-meter swimming pool. HIA is located in one of the Arab countries bordered by the Persian Gulf. In which city and country is HIA?

a. Doha, Qatar b. Dubai, UAE c. Abu Dhabi, UAE d. Manama, Bahrain

3. Guinness World Records has confirmed that the global event called “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson,” which took place this past June, was… well… the world’s largest swimming lesson. How many people — both children and adults — participated in the record-breaking event, according to a report on

a. More than 25,000 b. More than 30,000 c. More than 35,000 d. More than 40,000.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/11.1, November 5 — A Water-Rich Retreat, a Froggy Haven, Accessible Recreation and more

November 5, 2014


Waters of Paradise

Brought in to work on an oddly shaped property in Panama, Raymond Jungles did what came naturally: He sized up the site, negotiated some key details with the homeowners and, using water, plants and stone, brought their secluded tropical retreat vibrantly to life. [more]


The Making of a Frog Pond

Opening a new six-part video series on what it takes to craft ponds that appeal specifically to frogs, Eric Triplett gets started here by defining some of the key points that distinguish a common backyard pond from a suitable and welcome haven for water-loving amphibians. [more]


#16: Fire Fountain

As a pool/spa designer, Mike Farley constantly looks for ways to strech his design and construction skills. As this video demonstrates, that sometimes means stepping beyond what might be considered the usual professional boundaries — and playing with fire in the process. [more]


Increasing Access

The benefits of swimming and other forms of aquatic exercise are better defined and more widely known than ever before, notes Dr. Bruce Becker, one of the nation’s top researchers into all the good things that happen when people get in the water. But there are a number of obstacles that are keeping some of those who would benefit from actually getting in the water to help themselves, he adds — a surmountable set of issues he explores here.

This article, originally published in July 2008, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text.


The Shape of Sacrifice

The D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., is a visit-worthy commemoration of the sacrifices made by the U.S. and allied troops who landed in Normandy in June 1944. At its center, notes Jon Mitovich, stands a striking watershape that captures the emotional spirit of the battlefield. [more]


Through a Glass, Brightly

Being on the road is enough to disrupt anyone’s usual way of doing things, but, as always, the show must go on. And that’s true, writes Jim McCloskey, even when it means setting aside a work habit he’s observed for more years than he cares to count. [more]

Huge Outbreak of Hyper-Shrinkage?
43rd Annual Int’l Nude Swim
Meet Held in Mulhouse, France


Pools of Light

As a lighting designer, Mike Gambino came out strongly in November 2009 with his thoughts on the power of a particular combination of design elements to create visually spectacular projects. [more]


Clay Filter Medium from Emperor Aquatics

Emperor Aquatics (Pottstown, PA) offers Filter Clay, a multi-function filtration medium made from clay finely ground and baked at a consistent particle size. Intended for use in both mechanical and biological filter applications, the material works as a substitute for fine sand and has a highly porous surface that makes it ideal for bacterial colonization. For details, click here.

Zodiac Pool Systems Launches Jandy Pro Series Heat Pumps

Zodiac Pool Systems (Vista, CA) has introduced the Jandy Pro Series JE line of heat pumps. Designed to deliver maximum energy efficiency and reliability, the efficient units come in four models from 72,000 to 137,000 Btus and feature titanium heat exchangers, dual thermostats (for pool or spa), self-diagnostics and Aqualink compatibility. For details, click here.



Daredevil BASE Jump into Pool
Results in Big Splash, No Splat

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. At a recent international BASE jumping event in a major Asian city, jumpers flung themselves off a 1,099-foot tower and, according to, parachuted down into an outdoor swimming pool on the 34th floor of a nearby building. In what city did this take place?

a. Jakarta, Indonesia b. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia c. Tokyo, Japan d. Bangkok, Thailand.

2. Artist Henri Matisse’s famous work “The Swimming Pool” (“La Piscine”) — which consists of paper cutouts hung along large burlap panels — has gone on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art after a hiatus of 20 years. The 1952 piece was inspired, notes, by a trip Matisse took to one of his favorite swimming pools. In what French city was the pool located?

a. Rennes b. Lyon c. Cannes d. Marseilles.

3. Right-wingers in one European country are protesting a swimming pool’s announced plan to hold special swim courses for Muslim women (non-Muslim women may attend as well). The courses will be taught only by female instructors, reports, and participants will be “required to wear a wetsuit with sleeves and knee-length shorts, as well as a swimming cap.” In which country is the controversy taking place?

a. France b. Belgium c. Germany d. Italy.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/10.2, October 22 — Mastering Concrete, Polishing Streams, Mining Client Ideas and more

October 22, 2014


Concrete’s Ways

It’s easy to think of concrete as a commodity and take it for granted. But that’s an impulse you should resist, notes Paolo Benedetti, who explains here why it’s important to know something about how concrete is mixed — and how to manage it from the batch plant to the backyard. [more]


An Imperfect Flow

The Pittsburgh park where the huge sculpture stands is a marvelous, compact space, writes Jim McCloskey. Yet there’s something about the way the tall structure has been set up as a fountain that bothers him — despite his abiding admiration for the artist. [more]


Pooled Ideas

When his clients come to the design process with strong ideas of their own, writes Lew Akins, he takes everything into careful consideration — and, as this video eloquently demonstrates, finds that it’s occasionally possible to turn those desires into pure backyard magic. [more]


Opening a Shell

For nearly six years, this was a project that occupied most of James Atlas‘ working life, challenging him and the staff at Platinum Poolcare Aquatech with pursuing development of a watershape complex marked by great ambition, shifting needs and innumerable revisions. Now that his work is complete and the site is finally ready for its close-ups, he guides us through a masterpiece he justly sees as his firm’s crowning achievement.
This article, originally published in January 2009, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


A Stream Comes to Life

The ‘art’ of stream building is found mostly in the final stages of construction, says Rick Anderson. Here, in the last installment of his series on streamcrafting, he walks us through the concluding steps involved in transforming a raw installation into a finished masterpiece.[more]


Hitting the Road

Getting ready for the national pool expo can be a bit of a chore, concedes Jim McCloskey, but it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to see so many old friends all at once — and, this year, to reach out to a new set of acquaintances to be made from an allied industry. [more]

Truth Stranger Than Fiction:
Putin Given Aquatics Award for Boosting ‘Peace and Friendship’


It’s Easier Being Green

In his October 2009 Aqua Culture column, Brian Van Bower came down resolutely on the side of getting in step with what was then an emerging movement — and here’s another look at why. [more]


Rubber Pool Deck Surfaces from No Fault Sport Group

No Fault Sport Group (Baton Rouge, LA) offers rubber pool deck surfaces for use on splash pads and other waterplay areas in both indoor and outdoor applications. Available in 12 bright colors, the poured-in-place material is non-slip, seamless, permeable, porous and durable and provides a cushioned, easy-to-maintain surface that doesn’t get too hot. For details, click here.

New Robotic Pool Cleaner from Hayward Pool Products

Hayward Pool Products
(Elizabeth, NJ) has added the AquaVac 500 to its line of cleaners for inground residential pools. The new, low-profile robotic unit features microprocessor-directed wall climbing and scrubbing; two cleaning modes; an out-of-water/beach-entry sensor; a 60-foot swiveling cord; and a power supply with an integrated timer. For details, click here.



USA Swimming Suspends Olympian
Michael Phelps After Arrest for DUI

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. Earlier this month, champion Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was suspended from competition by USA Swimming after he was arrested for DUI. The organization said Phelps had violated its code of conduct. According to a report in, how long will the suspension last?

a. Six months b. Nine months c. 12 months d. 15 months.

2. Six Israeli men — ages 42 to 66 — recently swam 236 miles in the Mediterranean, from Cyprus to their home country. Upon completing the swim, they claimed the world open-water relay record, an assertion that must be certified by Guinness World Records. Which of the following, according to, did they not say was a problem they encountered?

a. Jellyfish b. Sharks
c. Low water temperature (they wore only swim trunks) d. Floating plastic bags.

3. Dr. Evans Boney, director of marketing at and creator of a new computer program that determines how many candies can fit into any given space, has calculated the number of M&Ms it would take to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. And the answer, reports, is . . .

a. 2.4 million b. 24 million c. 2.4 billion d. 24 billion.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/10.1, October 8 — New at WaterShapes: A Florida Dreamscape, an Uplifting Spray Park, Hidden Spillways and more

October 8, 2014


Seaside Luxury

Working around a talented architect’s design can be an inspiring professional experience, observes Raymond Jungles — and it gets even better when the canvas you’re presented with is an unusually large property set in a lush, tropical paradise. [more]


Community in Action

The hope-challenged hamlet of Wyandanch, N.Y., needed something special to set it on a new path, writes Joseph Serpe, and that’s what he and his working partners offered in the form of a wilderness-themed spray park filled with interactive waterfeatures — and two huge trees. [more]


#15: Hidden Spa Spillway

Taking unusual or innovative approaches can be risky, acknowledges Mike Farley, but watershape designs can be the better for it if you break away from convention and — as this video shows, for example — take a fresh look at the ways pools and spas interact. [more]


Echoes of Enchantment

Anthony Archer Wills has spent a four-decade career assembling some of the most beautiful aquatic compositions to be found anywhere in Europe or the United States. Working in a range of scales and styles, he seeks to inspire those who observe his work by bringing them into close proximity with water — whether it’s a lake or a small pond — and by encouraging them in terms both practical and emotional to share his love of water in garden settings.

This article, originally published in May 2005, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Water and Whimsy

A unique mix of folk art and high technology, the Uncle Wilbur Fountain in Colorado Springs, Colo., delights area children and parents with music, animation and dancing water. As Anne Gunn attests, it’s well worth a visit to see what happens when the show gets going. [more]


Up with Water!

When he surfs the web, Jim McCloskey rarely takes the time to do more than scan the headlines about technological breakthroughs. But a recent one caught his eye, and he can’t wait to see what future watershapers will do with this gravity-defying innovation. [more]

New World Record Holder:
12-Story-Deep Swimming Pool
Boasts Underwater Walkway


The Power in Partnering

On watershaping projects, even minor conflicts or disputes can lead to courtroom battles. Back in 1999, Curt Straub defined a way to avoid these lose/lose scenarios through a simple up-front agreement. [more]


Biological Pond Filters from Emperor Aquatics

Emperor Aquatics (Pottstown, PA) makes BioPro pressurized pond filters for use with heavy fish loads. Designed for installation on ponds holding up to 16,000 gallons, the units work in tandem with mechanical filters (which clear away larger debris and solid waste) and support large colonies of beneficial bacteria in their bio-media filtering beds. For details, click here.

LifeGuard Lift Offers Residential Pool Access

LifeGuard Lift (Eaton Rapids, MI) has introduced a line of pool lifts designed for residential applications. Available in powered-lift models with either manual or powered seat rotation, the units can be mounted with a deck plate or in a sleeve anchor and come with either a sling or a hard seat. All models are able to handle weights up to 350 pounds. For details, click here.


Intruder Goes Skinny-Dipping in
Hollywood Actor’s Swimming Pool

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. In two separate incidents, two different female intruders recently sneaked into the home of a well-known Hollywood actor; in the second case, reports, the woman undressed and went skinny dipping in the actor’s pool. Which actor was it?

a. Kevin Costner b. Keanu Reeves c. Denzel Washington d. Adam Sandler.

2. One European country, notes, recently saw the opening of its first indoor pool for dogs. Which country was it?

a. The Netherlands b. France c. Germany d. Spain.

3. Acoording to, at what age did Atlanta resident and nonagenarian competitive swimmer Anne Dunivin (now 97) became involved with the sport?

a. 87 b. 89 c. 91 d. 93.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/9.2, September 24 — Cool Plaster, A Pond Reborn, Roman Splendor and more

September 24, 2014


Plastering When It’s Hot?

When applied under ideal conditions, plaster is a wonderfully reliable finish for pools and spas. But when temperatures rise to sufficiently high levels, says Kim Skinner, care must be taken to avoid compromising what should be a hard, smooth, durable finish. [more]


Making Amends

If a pond has gone as seriously wrong as the one depicted in the last video he shared, says Eric Triplett, the only recourse is demolishing it and, as this video shows, replacing it with a watershape that does a better job of meeting its owners’ needs and desires. [more]


A Nice, Hot Bath

Among his many fond memories of traveling through England, Jim McCloskey holds those of the city of Bath in special regard. Partly, it’s about local literary history, but even more so, it’s about an ancient Roman spa now draped in neoclassical splendor. [more]


A Sense of Place

The renowned landscape architecture firm of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates has long advocated the concept of The New American Garden, an approach based on respect for native plants, local materials and a project’s particular context. Water is frequently a key feature in these spaces, explains Eric D. Groft, not only for its aesthetic potential but also because it puts the people who enter these spaces in desirable frames of mind.

This article, originally published in November 2009, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Stream-Lined Effects

For all of the aesthetic considerations that come with crafting streams, the fact is that man-made waterways must function properly. Here, Rick Anderson addresses this utilitarian part of the picture, guiding us through liner placement, plumbing and equipment installation. [more]


Dry-Side Adventures

A few days back, Jim McCloskey was digging through some old photo files when he came across an old friend: LandShapes, a short-lived (but brilliant!) publication that he immediately wanted to share with other friends through the auspices of the site. [more]

Thou Art Where, O Romeo?!
Shakespeare Classic Performed
In U.K. Edwardian Pool Complex


Setting Egos Aside

Ego helps keep us going, concedes Brian Van Bower in his Aqua Culture column from September 2009. But as he observed, it it can get very much in the way when it comes to projects of a certain kind. [more]


Waterplay Solutions Unveils Grasslands Aquatic Play System

Waterplay Solutions (Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) has introduced Grasslands, a collection of aquatic play features for spray parks and waterparks. Capturing the spirit of flowers, blades of grass, stone and various grassland creatures in ways that encourage exploration, they also delight children with decks jets, spray elements and mist. For details, click here.

Polaris Introduces the 9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner

Polaris, a division of Zodiac Pool Systems (Vista, CA) has added the 9550 Sport model to its line of robotic pool cleaners. Designed to climb steps and walls and clean the tile line with a solid-blade scrubbing brush, the unit features a seven-day programmable timer for custom cleaning cycles and a remote that can direct the cleaner through a pool. For details, click here.


Sloshed Brit Swims in River
Directly in Path of Cargo Ship

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. British Web site reports that a man risked death by swimming in the River Blyth directly in the path of a 4,000-ton cargo ship, triggering a rescue attempt by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The swimmer, who appeared to be inebriated, refused to get into the RNLI craft; instead, he swam to the side of the river and climbed out on a ladder. What reason did the swimmer give for his idiotic action?

a. He wanted to commit suicide in a unique way.
b. Swimming in the river was cheaper than using his local pool.
c. He didn’t know there were ships in the river.
d. He thought he could outswim anything that came along.

2. According to, South African heart surgeon Dr. Otto Thaning recently captured the world record for being the oldest person to swim the English Channel. (He completed the feat in 12 hours, 52 minutes.) How old is Thaning?

a. 70 b. 73 c. 76 d. 79.

3. At a state-level swimming competition in one South Asian country, a bull somehow gained entry to the pool area and plunged into the water just before a race was to begin. (Human swimmers were in the pool at the time and fled in terror, notes It took more than an hour to coax the bull — which seemed to be enjoying the dip — out of the pool. In what country did this take place?

a. Bangladesh b. Sri Lanka c. Pakistan d. India.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/9.1, September 10 — Reinventing Paradise, Gutting a Pond, Customizing Vinyl and more

September 10, 2014


A Wild Retreat

When Mother Nature wipes the slate clean with a hurricane, says Raymond Jungles, it’s possible to rework a property’s every detail. Having fantastic rocks on site along with a nice elevation change and the availability of great native plants? Well, it’s a great place to start. [more]


Custom Packages

Vinyl-liner pools have caught up in a big way when it comes to the kind of custom, resort-style features homeowners crave for their backyards. Here, Eric Gohn relates how advances in fabrication technology are making these cool package-pool details possible. [more]


The HazMat Pond

Even people with good intentions make bad mistakes. But in this case, says Eric Triplett, the perpetrators aimed to deceive, misleading their clients and leaving behind an epic mess Triplett puts on display in a video that is guaranteed to make pond professionals cringe. [more]


Mining Their Dreams

Pond and stream specialist Steve Sandalis has a penchant for creating dramatic watershape settings for residential clients who want something well beyond the ordinary. His firm’s expertise is on full display in this challenging project, which features a steep cascading waterfall, a stream and a pond suitable both for fish and for swimming — all executed in a confined space at the bottom of a narrow canyon.

This article, originally published in March 2008, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Water in the Desert

Inspired by the unique relationship between the Arizona landscape and the water that shapes it, say John Jennings and Jean Garbier, The Oasis waterpark in Phoenix was designed to blend in with its surroundings in a major resort — well worth a stimulating visit. [more]


Stunted Expectations

A current news story about a gang of copper thieves dredged up old memories for Jim McCloskey — and leads him to express a concern about the ways small and often unrelated issues seem to be adding up to become potential challenges to public watershapes. [more]

The World’s Fastest Carpool?
Two Dudes Turn ’69 Coupe de Ville
Into Rolling Hot Tub, Plan to Race It


Learning by Doing

Don’t get him started: The lack of plant literacy, wrote Bruce Zaretsky in his ‘On the Level’ column for September 2009, is a major deficit among professionals in a key segment of a supposedly ‘green’ industry. [more]


Grand Effects Introduces Fire Candeleres

Grand Effects (Irvine, CA) has announced the availability of Fire Candeleres for residential and commercial applications. The units come in square or round formats and are available in stained concrete – or in a translucent quartz applied as a marquetry inlay and lit from within by white or colored LEDs. All come with black metallic or black concrete bases. For details, click here.

Otterbine Barebo Offers Low-Voltage Fountain Lighting

Otterbine Barebo (Emmaus, PA) has introduced Fountain Glo low voltage LED lighting systems for its line of aerators and fountains. Energy efficient, versatile and cost-effective, these two, four, six and eight-light sets operate 6.5-watt bulbs in bright white or warm white flood lamps, providing an 80% energy savings compared to MR16 halogen lamps. For details, click here.


Aussie Long-Distance Swimmer
Detained by Brits in Mid-Race

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. Australian marathon swimmer John Van Wisse — competing in the Arch to Arc race, which includes running, swimming and cycling — was confronted by British police, border guards and coast-guard staff while he was swimming near the cliffs of Dover. (The name of the event stems from its course, from London’s Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.) Why was the Aussie briefly detained by British officials, according to

a. There were allegations he was using performance-enhancing drugs.
b. He was swimming in the nude.
c. Some people thought he was trying to sneak into the U.K. illegally.
d. Australia and the U.K. currently are in the midst of a diplomatic row.

2. Web site reports that Barry Alvarez, longtime football coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently the school’s director of athletics, recently described his “swimming routine” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal: “My swimming routine is to pour a ______ and lay over one of those floating devices with my _______ and shoot the breeze with everybody.” Fill in the blanks.

a. Cocktail b. Glass of wine c. Beer d. Glass of lemonade.

3. According to, University of Southern California football player Josh Shaw admitted he lied about why he leapt off a second story balcony at an apartment complex, seriously injuring both ankles. Shaw, who is a defensive back and captain of the USC team, was hailed as a hero because of his original story, which was widely reported by the media. What was his fabricated version of the incident?

a. He jumped off the balcony to rescue his girlfriend, who was drowning in the pool


b. He jumped off the balcony to rescue his nephew, who was drowning in the pool


c. He jumped off the balcony to stop a fistfight taking place on the pool deck.
d. He jumped off the balcony to stop a rape taking place on the pool deck.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/8.2, August 20 — Hilltop Rescue, Deck-Jet Dynamics, Stream Prep and more

August 20, 2014


Add a Spa, Save a Home

It didn’t take Paolo Benedetti long to notice that his prospective client’s house was giving way on a slowly collapsing hilltop. Armed with a fresh soils report, he designed a spa and stone deck that alleviated the slope’s creeping — and the homeowner’s worries as well. [more]


The Other Orlando Attraction

Traveling to Orlando often involves buying tickets to its many theme parks, but take it from frequent visitor Jim McCloskey: If you just want to relax and have a good time for free, drop by downtown’s Lake Eola and enjoy the show put on by it’s beautifully restored musical fountain. [more]


#14: Cannon Jets

Arcing deck jets seem a natural addition to pools — which might explain their “soaring” popularity. But as Mike Farley

discusses in this video, there are several key points that should be considered up front, mostly having to do with where they’re placed and how they’re to be “used.” [more]


Playful Pursuits

Landscape designer and watershaper Colleen Holmes

specializes in highly creative, richly detailed residential projects that embrace her clients’ personalities, are based on solid engineering and construction practices and reflect her own distinctly lyrical sensibilities. The project featured in these pages captures all those qualities and more in a fascinating tapestry of plants, hardscape and water that was a full six years in the making.

This article, originally published in December 2006, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Cutting a Channel

Stream building can be hard work, says Rick Anderson, but it isn’t terribly complex or exotic. All it takes to be successful in creating one that looks ‘natural,’ he explains, is a good plan, a thorough understanding of the site and a generous dose of thoughtful spontaneity. [more]


Broadcast Merit

At long last, watershapes are getting some significant, consistent exposure on television — and it’s about damn time, writes Jim McCloskey, who has been working toward and hoping for this kind of episodic approach to the subject for more than a dozen years. [more]

Repels Sun Rays, Perverts, Even Sharks!
The ‘Facekini’ Becomes a Big Hit
With Chinese Female Swimmers


The Designer’s Environment

Back in August 2004, David Tisherman devoted one of the most personal of all his Details column to guiding us on a tour of a special place that facilitates his work in designing watershapes. [more]


Coverall Stone Offers Basalt-Column Fountains

Coverall Stone (SeaTac, WA) manufactures fountains and a range of other outdoor-living accessories from columnar basalt. One type, Grand Coulee Basalt, is a dense, volcanic material that usually features five or six planes, has a brown/rust color and comes in larger diameters that are ideal for sculptural waterfeatures and landscape compositions. For details, click here.

BaduJet Imperial from Speck Pumps

Speck Pumps (Jacksonville, FL) manufactures the BaduJet Imperial SwimJet System to provide a current to swim against in pools too small for effective lap swimming. Controls for the jet system are built into the housing, including a knob to adjust the water flow and a regulator to control the amount of air included in the water stream. For details, click here.


USA Swimming Shows Support for
High School Swimmer with Leukemia

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including reports connected to the three questions below.

1. According to the Web site, USA Swimming recently showed its support for 16-year-old high school swimmer Stephen Dwyer by bringing him and his family to the National Championships in Irvine, Calif. Dwyer was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and has been undergoing difficult chemotherapy treatments. In Irvine, the youngster got to meet many of his swimming idols. Which of the following well-known swimmers is a relative of his?

a. Michael Phelps b. Ryan Lochte c. Connor Dwyer d. None of the these.

2. The residents of a major U.S. metropolis are about the benefit from a floating swimming pool, pool deck and washroom facilities, all of which will be docked at an underused section of the city’s harbor. What city?

a. Chicago b. New York c. Miami d. Phoenix.

3. June Krauser — widely known as the “Mother of Masters Swimming” — passed away earlier this month in Pompano Beach, Fla. During her decades-long swimming career, she reportedly broke 154 U.S. records and 72 world records in the Masters division. How old was June Krauser when she died?

a. 82 b. 84 c. 86 d. 88.

To find out how many you got right, click here.

2014/8.1, August 6 — Rethinking Paradise, Perils of Plaster Dust, Poolside Decor and more

August 6, 2014


A Private Paradise, Revisited

It’s not often that a designer gets to return to a past project and update it to meet the needs and desires of new owners. But that was the opportunity Raymond Jungles was offered with this property and home — a Mid-Century Modern classic located in the Florida Keys. [more]


Preventing Plaster Dust

If you’re one of those watershapers who accept plaster dust as a normal part of starting up a pool, says Kim Skinner, it’s time to reconsider. As he discusses in this article, there are all sorts of reasons dust formation is undesirable — and some direct ways to avoid it. [more]


New World Impressions

For more than 4,000 years, writes Bobbie Schwartz, stone has been used to make structures of enduring beauty and grandeur: The Parthenon in Athens, for example, is a global icon. But you don’t have to go nearly so far to find other stone treasures worth traveling to see. [more]


Great Wavelengths

This elegant swimming pool/spa combination in southern California’s Malibu Colony is one of the most challenging projects designer and builder David Tisherman has ever tackled. Here, with all of the hurdles crossed and details complete, he invites you to join him for a visual celebration of the project — one that caused him to reach to the outer limits of his creativity, expertise and stamina.

This article, originally published in June 2003, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Poolside Panache

Among all the ways there are to achieve great looks with backyard pools, says Keith Monk, there’s one approach that probably deserves more attention than it gets. Here, he suggests ways of having this underused material turn humdrum pools into distinctive showplaces. [more]


The Directory Is Back!

After months of review and validation, writes Jim McCloskey, the WaterShapes Resource Directory is up and running — fully updated, streamlined and ready for use by all watershapers. Here, he offers some observations on what proved to be an interesting process. [more]

Committee Chair Doesn’t Seem Amused:
Congressman Suggests Installing
A Truth-Testing Swimming Pool


Giving to Receive

Back in 2009, Brian Van Bower used his Aqua Culture column to discuss a simple gesture that is almost guaranteed to produce positive client responses — not to mention strong, enthusiastic referrals. [more]


Sun-Shelf Nozzles from Roman Fountains

Roman Fountains (Albuquerque, NM) manufactures the RPSS Series Sunshelf Nozzle, a small, precision-machined brass nozzle that can be installed flush into the floor of a pool entry shelf or step at moderate depth to produce an aerated mound of water above the pool surface. The nozzle covers are removable for easy servicing and maintenance. For details, click here.

LED Accent Lighting from Hayward Pool Products

Hayward Pool Products (Elizabeth, NJ) offers ColorLogic color LED accent lighting for watershape applications. Easy to install in as little as four inches of water and safe for wall or floor placement, the units are ideal for use on steps or thermal shelves, with bubblers and in spa dam walls or fountains and can be networked for color coordination. For details, click here.


Prince George Learns to Swim
In Buckingham Palace’s Pool

Many water-related stories have been in the news of late — including a report connected to the three questions below.

1. According to, 1-year-old Prince George, future heir to the British throne, is learning to swim in a pool at Buckingham Palace — the same pool where his father, Prince William, learned to swim. The young prince’s instructor? His mum, the Duchess of Cambridge. Did the article also reveal the following?

“…[palace] rules state that if a staff member is swimming and a royal appears, the staff member always has to get out of the pool immediately. If a staff member arrives to swim and a royal is already swimming, they must not attempt to join the royal, it is said.”

Is that explanation of the rules true or false?

2. “The heavy chemical smell around [a] pool is a reminder that chlorine is present in the water for killing germs.”

Is this statement, which appears on the Web site, true or false?

3. also notes that when swimmers’ hair — blonde hair in particular — turns green, the culprit is not the chlorine in the pool.

True or false?

To find out how many you got right, click here.

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