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2015 Editions (January-June)

2015/6.2, June 24 — Losing a Deck, Adding a Table, Simplifying Wiring and more

June 24, 2015


Subtracting a Deck

If a client asks you to get rid of an old deck all the way up to the coping without adding a new deck, you should think things through before taking the job. If you don’t, advises Scott Cohen, things can go very wrong — and you might be on the hook for a substantial shell-repair bill. [more]


#19: Built-In Table

Some ideas that look great on paper can become problematic in an actual pool or spa. One such item is an in-pool table of the sort Mike Farley discusses in this video: It’s a case in which everyone needs to sit back and consider all of the factors involved. [more]


Unadulterated Fun

It’s a watershape that Jim McCloskey has long considered as the very first on his list of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. That’s why he was so surprised to discover he’d never urged watershapers to hit the road to visit it before now. [more]


An Elegant Slice

Vera Katz Park was once just an empty sidewalk in Portland’s Pearl District — but that was before landscape designer and sculptor Scott Murase transformed it into a vibrant urban ‘sliver park’ complete with a long watershape and other attractive amenities. The results of his endeavors are chronicled here, with an emphasis on a unique design process and his use of a creative editing approach that perfectly served the needs of this distinctly urban space.

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


Wiring Simplified

Although a well-organized equipment pad is seldom the object of much appreciation, says Paolo Benedetti, it is no less important to a project’s success. That’s why he offers this advice on a key part of pad organization — that is, the management of its wiring connections. [more]


Idea Factories

One of WaterShapes’ most persistent themes has had to do with the value of travel, even if it involves no more than a walk in a local rustic canyon. Fresh off a trip to a pair of amazing national parks, Jim McCloskey‘s own travel advocacy is hitting new heights, as you’ll read here.


Goes Without Saying Dept.: Universal swim education proposed for Minnesota’s public schools. [more]

Safety benefits alone should lead to a positive vote.

Another Good Idea Dept.: Bio-filtered swimming pool planned for the middle of London’s filthy Thames. [more]

Other riverfront cities worldwide should follow this lead.


Water Woes
Five years ago, Bruce Zaretsky wrote about water from an unusual perspective, sounding a cautionary note on its capacity to play havoc with watershapers’ and landscape professionals’ best intentions. [more]


ClearWater Tech Offers Compact Ozone Systems

MistAmerica’s MA Mist Cooling Systems

MistAmerica (Scottsdale, AZ) manufactures MA Mist, an outdoor, high-pressure cooling system featuring the company’s Ruby nozzle orifices for reliable, long-term performance. Each unit includes a built-in filter to limit clogging and has a check valve to stop drips and whistling. They’re also available with four orifice sizes to customize mist flow. For details, click here.


CDC Reveals What Really Causes
Cases of ‘Red Eyes’ in Swimmers

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

1. The Centers for Disease Control recently identified what actually causes eye irritations from swimming (“red eyes”). What, says a report on the study at, is the culprit?

a. Chlorine b. Urine and sweat
c. Chlorine binding to urine and sweat d. None of the above

2. A family in Coppell, Tex., was dismayed when their backyard swimming pool was completely swallowed. What, according to, gobbled up the pool?

a. The creek behind their home overflowed its banks.
b. A huge sinkhole opened up beneath the pool.
c. A tidal wave suddenly came off the Gulf of Mexico.
d. Godzilla swam over from Japan, went on a rampage and ate the pool.
3. When a large python snake slithered into a backyard swimming pool in Australia, how did the three boys in the pool react? [Source:]
a. They fled the pool, screaming in panic.
b. They tried to feed the snake a frog they’d hung on the end of a stick.
c. They killed the snake and grilled it on the “barbie.”
d. They killed the snake and baked it in the home’s oven (using a new Kraft product called Shake
‘n Bake for Snake).

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

2015/6.1, June 10 — Safety Always, Gorgeous Edges, Sustainability ABCs and more

June 10, 2015


Client Tech

In transitioning from hand drawing to digital design, writes Bobby Thomas, it’s essential that you don’t get so caught up in the speed, power, bells and whistles of the technology that you forget why you’re there — that is, to meet the needs of the site and your clients. [more]


Safety Always

Working with massive boulders on steep slopes can be dangerous, says Eric Triplett, which is why he spends so much time managing his staff and, as this video demonstrates, communicating with them in clear terms about job-site safety — first, last and always. [more]


Doing Our Best, Sustainably

On his job sites, Bruce Zaretsky is always on the lookout for ways he can be a responsible steward of the planet. Thoughtful demolition, recycling, local sourcing, water conservation — they’re now all built into his daily routines as a professional designer and builder. [more]


Gaining an Edge

Among the most critical considerations in watershape design, says Skip Phillips, is establishing the relationship between the water and the structure that surrounds it. In other words, it’s all about edges — edges that vanish, edges on angles, recessed edges and more. And whether his purpose is to accentuate the edge or make it disappear, the effects he strives for at these boundaries are the true hallmark of his recent work.

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in June 1999, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Sea of Tranquility

Tucked into a canyon above the Pacific Ocean, the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles is an oasis of water, plants and spiritual imagery. For Stephanie Rose, it’s also a favorite place to visit to observe the fine points of plant selection and placement. [more]


Media Mastery

Not all that long ago, writes Jim McCloskey, watershapes were utterly starved for media attention and had to pay plenty to get it. Now, however, pools, spas and ponds are all making significant broadcast splashes, offering a once- marginalized industry direct access to consumers. [more]


Wish-Fulfillment Dept.: Heavy rains conjure a waterfall fantasy a bit too real for a few gullible Australians. [more]
It’s a photo prank — but a splendid vision just the same.

Can-Do Dept.: Whatever happened to this sense of style when it came to building public swimming pools? [more] Detroit’s pre-war facilities recall a different world.


Turkey Revisited
Ten years ago this month, David Tisherman wrote passionately about the value of breaking away from day-to-day routines and, as you’ll see by clicking here, seeking out compelling forms of inspiration.


Zodiac Pool Systems Releases AquaLink Z4 Controller

Zodiac Pool Systems
(Vista, CA) has launched the new Aqualink Z4, a pool/spa control system that brings convenient, easy-to-use automation to up to four circuits and three valve actuators. Easy to install and set up, the units are also iAquaLink compatible, so they can be operated using any smart phone, tablet or web-linked device — or by a wireless remote. For details, click here.

LED040 Underwater Lights from Crystal Fountains

Crystal Fountains (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) manufactures the LED040 mid-sized underwater light for use in fountains and other small watershapes. The compact units are available in warm white, cool white and RGB formats, are made with rugged polycarbonate ABS and stainless steel and have internal temperature controls to prevent overheating. For details, click here.


1965 Harvard Swimmers Defeat
2015 Swim Team in Relay Race

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

1. When members of the 1965 Harvard men’s swim team recently returned to the prestigious Ivy League school for a 50th reunion, they were pleased to meet with members of the 2015 swim team. In fact, they challenged the current team to a 200-meter relay race — and although the race ended in a “photo finish,” notes, the oldsters reportedly were victorious! (After watching the video of the event four times, however, your quizmaster can’t see how anyone arrived at that conclusion.) Of course, the young swimmers graciously gave their senior counterparts a head start. How long was it?

a. 55 seconds b. 75 seconds c. 95 seconds d. 115 seconds

2. Last month, a brazen prankster named Dan Jarvis disrupted the World Diving Series competition in London when he “ripped off his clothes to reveal skimpy Speedos before taking the plunge from a 10-meter board.” The delay in the event, observes, took even longer because Jarvis accidentally dropped something into the pool. What did he drop?

a. His jockstrap b. His orthodontic retainer c. His house keys d. His swim goggles

3. President Jacob Zuma has been found not liable to repay $24 million in public funds used for improvements on a private home he owns. Included in the upgrades were a swimming pool, cattle kraal and chicken run. As reports, the minister of police — a Zuma appointee — “concluded that the swimming pool was . . . needed to fight any blaze at the mainly thatched compound, while the cattle kraal and chicken run were necessary to prevent the animals tripping motion detectors as they roamed about.” In which country is Jacob Zuma president?

a. Kenya b. Republic of the Congo c. Zambia d. South Africa

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

2015/5.2, May 20 — Faux Stone Miscues, Shotcrete’s Pedigree, Fountain Idealism and more

May 20, 2015


All Cracked Up

Faux stones made with concrete can be a great alternative to real stone, notes Scott Cohen. But you need to be aware of a key detail in their manufacturing process — a piece of information that will enable you to avoid costly consequences on the job site. [more]



It seems as though it’s been around forever, but as Lily Samuels and Bill Drakeley report here, pneumatically applied concrete has been with us for little more than 100 years. Kicking off a three-part series on shotcrete, they start with a look at the men behind the technology. [more]


Rising Aspiration

Whenever he gets to Cleveland, Jim McCloskey makes a point of visiting The Fountain of Eternal Life: It’s a poignant war memorial, but it’s also a call for a better world — and one of the most compelling statements about human aspiration he’s ever seen. [more]


Gallery Views

If watershapes and sculptures are both to be included in a garden, the designer faces the challenge of making each component look as though it truly belongs in the setting. Here, Chicago-based landscape artist Rosalind Reed explores what is involved in pulling off this balancing act for a small urban space. The result is a careful interweaving of artistic and aquatic forms that blend serenely in the heart of a bustling city.

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in May 2001, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Covering Levels

When it comes to practical design/construction solutions, says Paolo Benedetti, few are as significant as keeping surface waves from flooding automatic pool cover vaults. Here, he defines a simple approach that protects the cover and its mechanisms while saving water, too. [more]


Printed Legacy

Back issues of WaterShapes have been flying off his office shelves in the past few weeks, writes Jim McCloskey, as part of a long-overdue space-clearing sale. It’s made him think fondly of the old days — and leads him to remind you to stock up while there’s still time! [more]


Opportunity Knocks Dept.: Police pursue a man seen rinsing his car in a plaza’s dry-deck fountain. [more]
Well, it does look a bit like a drive-through service.

Party Hearty Dept.: A walk down a manufactured Memory Lane courtesy of pool-centric hotel postcards. [more]
Even staged glamour is better than none at all!


Size Revisited
Back in May 2005, Stephanie Rose discussed a specific type of project that she saw as a true test of a designer’s skill. It’s all about managing fine details, she wrote — and captivating clients with the results. [more]


Neptune Benson Offers ProStrainer Products

Neptune Benson
(Coventry, RI) has acquired the ProStrainer line from ProFlo. These lightweight, low-profile, small-footprint, dual-basket strainers operate with a horizontal laminar flow that eliminates clogging, reduces energy use and limits wear and tear on the pump. Their quick-release lids also ease access to their large-capacity baskets. For details, click here.

Avalon Fountains Releases Product Catalog

Avalon Fountains (Malibu, CA) has published a digital catalog covering its line of nature-inspired fountains and waterfeatures for both residential and commercial settings. The handcrafted, water-emitting trees range in height from 4 to 50 feet, and each is a made-to-order artwork in copper, bronze and glass. Glass-flowered plants are also highlighted. For details, click here.


Zoo Project: People Will Swim with
Polar Bears and Live to Tell the Tale

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

1. The zoo in one U.S. city is planning a new water facility that will enable humans and polar bears to swim side by side. According to an article on the proposed project, “At times, bears and people will be wet and in close proximity, divided by a glass wall.” Which city is it?

a. Denver b. Chicago c. Miami d. Houston

2. Seattleite Wayne Kinslow recently achieved an impressive feat by swimming every day in Elliott Bay off the city’s Alki neighborhood, the westernmost part of West Seattle. How many consecutive days, according to, did Kinslow swim in the chilly Pacific Northwest waters?

a. 365 b. 500 c. 750 d. 1,000

3. A major Canadian city recently banned swimmers at city pools from swimming with their feet bound together =- a severe blow to one aspiring professional mermaid who had been training that way for more than a year. In response, 24-year-old Krista Visinski launched a petition drive to overturn the ban. What Canadian city is now mermaid-unfriendly?

a. Montreal b. Toronto c. Edmonton d. Vancouver

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

2015/5.1, May 6 — Chemical-Free Pools, The Digital Office, Cascade Contouring and more

May 6, 2015


Chemical-Free? Really?

His clients wanted watershapes without chemicals, and Randy Beard was determined to deliver. Long intrigued by the way koi ponds work, he tinkered until he developed a simple system that fills his pools with pure, clear water — and makes a home’s plants happy, too. [more]


The Evolving Studio

Want to know how to optimize the technology you’re using to run your watershape-design software? Finding the answer, reports Chris Adamczyk, is as easy as joining the video gaming community and picking the brains of the tech-savvy teens you’re trying to keep up with. [more]


Up the Hill

It’s always good to know what you’re doing on the job site, notes Eric Triplett — and that’s particularly true if you’re on a steep slope and have assumed responsibility for adding a long, multi-tiered, boulder-strewn system of cascades and pools to a big backyard. [more]


Thoughts for the Eyes

The balancing of plant and stone, a layering of views, the use of perspective, a careful plotting of footpaths and the subtle use of water: All these come together in Japanese gardening, a form of expression that accounts for many of the world’s most beautiful and elegant man-made spaces. Among the finest of these works of art, says Douglas M. Roth, one stands out: Katsura Rikyu.

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in January 2002, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Earth, Air, Light and Water

Devised to teach children (and their adult companions) about basic forces of nature, the plaza at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt., features an array of water effects that Jane Shoplick describes as informative, entertaining, delightful — and well worth a visit. [more]


Shaken Loose

A video of a pool made during Nepal’s recent earthquake reminded Jim McCloskey of an unusual seismic experience he had following the Northridge quake in 1994 — and of the importance of helping survivors of these disasters pull their lives back together. [more]


Cool and Cute Dept.: Watch giraffes have great, good fun jumping in a CGI-driven high-dive spectacle. [more]
If only this were an actual sporting event . . .

Ponds to the Rescue Dept.: Duke University is to save $400,000 annually by capturing rain, runoff. [more]
This sort of headline should be far more common!


Setting Personal Standards
Back on 2010, Dave Peterson called on his teaching experience to make a point about the way watershapers approach hydraulics. It’s a powerful message about built-in quality that still reverberates today. [more]


CAT 3500/5500 Controllers from Hayward Pool Products

Hayward Pool Products
(Elizabeth, NJ) has released the CAT 3500 and CAT 5500 wireless water-quality controllers, complete with conductivity and TDS monitoring. Equipped with Internet-based monitoring capabilities tailored specifically for salt chlorine applications, the intuitive systems monitor pH, ORP and salt level/TDS. For details, click here.

Focus Industries Offers SL-40 Series Underwater Lights

Focus Industries (Lake Forest, CA) manufactures the SL-40 Series of underwater lighting fixtures. Made of cast brass and featuring flat, high-impact, tempered-glass lenses in five colors, the units can be wall or floor mounted and come standard with 20-watt MR11 lamps rated to last for 10,000 hours. A 50,000-hour LED option is also available. For details, click here.


Caroline the Black Lab Causes
Pickup Truck to Plunge into Pool

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

1. Episodes of humans accidentally driving their vehicles into swimming pools are fairly common. But recently in Erwin, N.C., reports, a 90-pound black lab named Caroline made her owners’ pickup truck do the same thing. How did it happen?

a. The owners left Caroline in the pickup with the motor running while they dashed into a nearby
store for a minute.
b. Caroline got spooked by something and dove onto the floorboard, pushing the driver’s foot
down on the accelerator.
c. Caroline started barking loudly, causing the driver to become momentarily distracted.
d. Caroline stood up right in front of the driver, blocking her view out the windshield.

2. What may be “the world’s scariest swimming pool,” the FloWave at Scotland’s Edinburgh University, can generate massive waves and extremely fast currents. The facility, according to, is used to test marine technologies. How high can the waves reach?

a. Three stories b. Five stories c. Seven stories d. Nine stories

3. In Elliott Bay off Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park, notes, a group of sea lions has been spotted performing what amounts to a synchronized swimming move using their flippers. According to a Seattle Parks employee, the odd behavior takes place just one day every spring. What does the author of the article about the phenomenon speculate as to the cause?

a. It’s a mating ritual by male sea lions to impress females of the species.
b. It’s a mating ritual by female sea lions to attract males of the species.
c. A slight change in the earth’s magnetic field during the spring disorients the animals.
d. The animals were released from a SeaWorld park, where they performed the same
synchronized move as part of a show.

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

2015/4.2, April 22 — Water’s Dark Side, Eased Edges, Fountain Faces and more

April 22, 2015


Water Gone Wild

Among all the problems he’s observed as an expert witness, Scott Cohen is particularly aware of what can go wrong when water starts moving where it’s not wanted. Often it’s a cosmetic issue; sometimes, however, serious damage can result — and can be costly to address. [more]


Face Time

Walking into a compact space in Petaluma, Calif., called Theater Square, Jim McCloskey found himself literally face to face with the town’s citizenry — a wonderful experience that will enhance any watershaper’s trip to Sonoma County’s wine district. [more]


#18: Eased-Edge Coping

Occasionally, notes Mike Farley, a client will want to achieve a different look than is ordinarily offered with a given material. This calls for extra creativity and skill on the job site, he notes, but it’s just the sort of detailing that can pay off in the form of beautiful results. [more]


Designs on Edge

From standard coping and cantilevered decks to boulders and plants and rock veneers, watershapers are using an ever-broadening palette of edge treatments to accentuate and refine their designs. In this photo-essay, veteran landscape architect Peter White illustrates the boundless possibilities that present themselves when it comes to setting up boundaries at water’s edge.

This article, originally published in the very first issue of WaterShapes in February 1999, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Keeping it Clean

To make water-in-transit systems work, more and more watershapers are finding themselves in need of external tanks that give these systems the surge capacity they need. Here, Paolo Benedetti discusses how to make these tanks both reliable and serviceable. [more]


The Swimming Imperative

A long string of news stories about water-related misadventures was on Jim McCloskey‘s mind when an item in an Irish newspaper caught his eye: It reminded him of an idea that’s intrigued him for years — one he believes should be applied just about everywhere. [more]


Totally Cool Dept.: Hungarian architect relies on ‘liquid engineering’ to regulate indoor temperatures. [more]
Water-filled walls do all the work in these buildings.

Totally Uncool Dept.: Kansas wants to keep poor from using aid money to visit swimming pools. [more]
Why would legislators stop such a healthy pursuit?


Degrees of Separation
Ten years ago, Brian Van Bower wrote candidly about the fact that lots of players on one side of the watershaping business were worried about incursions from another. Do these ‘sides’ even exist today? [more]


Jewels for Pools from Universal White Cement

Universal White Cement
(Glendale, AZ) offers Jewels for Pools with Pebble Radiance. This blend of iridescent, multihued, gem-like glass — combined with mini-pebbles, abalone shell and pigments — adds new dimensions to pebble pool finishes. Strong and durable, the material includes the company’s pozzolanic-enhanced cement in each formulation. For details, click here.

Zodiac Unveils Jandy Pro Series VS PlusHP Pump

Zodiac Pool Systems (Vista, CA) now offers the Jandy Pro Series VS PlusHP, a variable-speed, mid-sized, high-head pump for both renovations and new construction. Available only to pool professionals and brick-and-mortar retailers, the 2.7 total horsepower units feature large strainer baskets and an auxiliary circuit to control another device. For details, click here.


Swimmers ‘Make the Best Lovers’
According to New British Study

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

1. A recent study by the British Heart Foundation and Mindlab, a market research company, surveyed 2,000 people in the U.K. regarding their sports activities. Among many other findings, reports, the researchers determined that those who swim regularly make the best lovers. Which of the following attributes did the study not ascribe to swimmers?

Swimmers . . .

a. are charitable b. tend to be happy
c. are good at keeping tidy d. don’t like drawing attention to themselves

2. Earlier this month, an engaged couple — both of whom have physical disabilities — were set to take their wedding vows in a swimming pool following a more traditional church ceremony. The groom has balance problems due to a car accident; the bride, who normally is in a wheelchair because of a stroke, noted, “In the water we will be able to kiss and cuddle afterwards like other people.” In what country were the nuptials — both dry and wet — going to take place?

a. France b. United Kingdom c. Germany d. Italy

3. Residents of one U.S. seaside town have asked local authorities for help after sharks started swimming right next to their properties. As told by, some misguided individuals had thrown food to the sharks, which may explain the animals’ unusual ongoing behavior. In what town did this happen?

a. Georgetown, S.C. b. Darien, Ga. c. Bonita Springs, Fla. d. Lincoln City, Ore.

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

2015/4.1, April 8 — Cascade Mastery, Hydraulic Balance, Digital Pioneering and more

March 18, 2015


On the Ground Floor

Back in his high school drafting class, Tanr Ross took a chance in pursuing what were then brand-new computer-design technologies. By the time he encountered the team launching Pool Studio some years later, he was all set to take off on the software’s rising digital wave. [more]



There’s no doubt that Eric Triplett enjoys making videos and sharing his projects as a means of inspiring others to do great work. But in this all-new series, there’s an issue of scale that kicks things up a few notches and lifts the information well above the introductory level. [more]


Trust in Balance

When Jim Wilder approaches a fountain project, his knowledge of basic hydraulics tells him to rely on balance and lay out his systems accordingly. But he also knows how difficult it can be to resist a bit of performance-ensuring overkill — even when he knows better. [more]


Primitive Modern

Sculptor and landscape artist Roger Hopkins has spent a career playing with rocks. From investigations of the stone-working techniques of ancient Egyptians and Druids to pursuit of his own brand of primal stone sculpture, he approaches life with an exuberance, determination and wit that are evident in everything he does. Here, in words and pictures, Hopkins takes us behind the scenes for a look at his work in a genre he calls “primitive modern.”

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.


Wright’s Triangle

Of all the structures at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the triangular pool may be the most iconic. But the watershape hadn’t been touched since the 1960s, notes Thomas Lopez, who was called in to bring it up to date for anyone inclined to visit the celebrated campus. [more]


Water Dynamics

A gentle spring rain set Jim McCloskey to thinking not only about California’s drought and the scarcity of water, but also of the function of watershapes as parts of daily life — and key reminders of water’s preciousness as well as its enduring social and cultural significance. [more]


Oddly Compelling Dept.: Strangely watchable new sporting event dubbed ‘a tug of war on water.’ [more]
I guess it’s preferable to being pulled into a mud pit.

Overbearing Guests Dept.: A parade of pachyderms drains the pool at an African resort. [more]
At least they decided against taking a full dip.


Permeating Issues
Five years ago, Bruce Zaretsky wrote about the importance of putting a major innovation to work in landscape projects of all sorts. Are you on the same wavelength? [more]


Granite Fire Pits from Grand Effects

Grand Effects
(Irvine, CA) has added granite fire pits to its list of products. Kits are available in three configurations (round, square or linear) to meet a range of design requirements and include sets of pre-cut granite stones. They can be set up for use with any burner — the company’s or another supplier’s — or as wood-burning features. For details, click here.

Pure Start Pre-Filters Available from Pleatco

Pleatco (Glen Cove, NY) has introduced PureStart Pre-Filters, a product line engineered to overcome the problems associated with using tap, ground and well water to fill and top off pools and spas. Made using a melt-spun filtration technology, the cartridge attaches to a garden hose to capture dirt and mineral particles before they reach a spa or pool. For details, click here.


Not an Illusion: Famed Magician’s
Pool Floods New York Building

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

1. The rooftop swimming pool above master illusionist David Copperfield’s four-story Manhattan penthouse recently overflowed and flooded much of the luxury building below. The mishap, says, reportedly was caused by a malfunctioning pump. In addition to Copperfield’s four floors, residences on how many of the building’s other floors were damaged?

a. More than 10 b. More than 20 c. More than 30 d. More than 40

2. Twerking singing star (or singing twerking star) Miley Cyrus was photographed with BFF (or maybe more) Cheyne Thomas while the two cuddled on a large blow-up aquatic creature floating in a swimming pool. What animal, according to, hosted the cuddle fest?

a. Whale b. Duck c. Frog d. Flamingo

3. A news item on indicates that a 17-year-old female was bitten by an alligator recently while she and (apparently) the reptile were swimming in a retention pond just outside a Florida city. Which city?

a. Tampa b. Fort Lauderdale c. Miami Beach d. Talahassee

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

2015/3.2, March 18 — Water Gone Rogue, Hidden Controls, Improving a Great View and more

March 18, 2015


Water on the Move

Water has a will of its own, observes Scott Cohen, and takes advantage of whatever pathways it can find — often to go where you don’t want it to go. Unchecked, it can lead to staining that will seriously mar a watershape’s good looks, not to mention a homeowner’s good mood. [more]


A Seaside Gem

Given its spectacular ocean views, Randy Beard knew that this home called for a pool and spa that didn’t get in the way. But that wasn’t all he had to consider in designing the watershapes and organizing this remarkable space for entertainment as well as private enjoyment. [more]



A meeting took Jim McCloskey to a downtown Los Angeles hotel where, getting restless, he set out to explore a nearby museum. But before he’d gone even a few yards, he heard the sounds of moving water and discovered a wonderfully accessible urban oasis. [more]


Small Wonders

Great things can be achieved in small spaces, says landscape architect and watershaper Keith Davitt, who works mainly in the urban surroundings of Brooklyn, N.Y. Well accustomed to making the most out of areas that many designers would consider too confining, he focuses on selecting and juxtaposing key elements of plant, hardscape and water to create harmonious, relaxing environments — as this tour of a quartet of his projects demonstrates.

This article, originally published in September 2000, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Under Control

To avoid compromising the visual integrity of his projects, Paolo Benedetti is always on the lookout for ways to conceal undesired intrusions. Here, he takes aim at spaside controls, describing a quick, effective means of removing them from view. [more]


Color Me Unimpressed

Whatever it is that inspires cities and towns across the country to color their fountains as a way to mark special occasions, Jim McCloskey has seen enough of them in recent years that he thinks it’s time for these municipalities to rethink their approach to ‘getting festive.’ [more]


Workplace Frustration Dept.: Donald Trump returns golf club angrily tossed in pond
. [more]

Are we sure Rory ever wanted to see that iron again?

Positive Gesture Dept.: Dutch students raise money to repair damaged Rome fountain. [more]
It’s a small drop in the bucket — but a nice thought.


Digging for Insight
It can be hard work, as Brian Van Bower reported in his Aqua Culture column from March 2010. From his perspective, however, this process is the key to finding out what your clients really want. [more]


Hayward Announces New Universal H-Series Pool Heater

Hayward Pool Products
(Elizabeth, NJ) has expanded its Universal H-Series gas heater line to include new 500,000-Btu heaters featuring fast speed-to-heat capability. Available for both residential and commercial applications and for use with either propane or natural gas, the compact units offer great performance and efficiency as well as low emissions. For details, click here.

RicoRock Introduces New Coping Stones

RicoRock (Orlando, FL) is now manufacturing pre-cast, artificial-rock copings for use with new vinyl-liner pools and in pool renovations. Designed to complement waterfalls, boulders and other rockwork details, the coping comes in lightweight, eight-stone sections of cast concrete that can be mortared in place to cover a six-foot bond-beam span. For details, click here.


French Olympic Swim Champ

Killed in Deadly Copter Crash

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

1. Tragically, reports, 25-year-old French Olympic swimming champion Camille Muffat — along with seven other people, two of whom also were accomplished French athletes — was killed recently in a helicopter accident in South America. Where did the crash take place?

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

2. Only racehorses are allowed to use a very exclusive swimming pool in one major Chinese city; the horses, engage in aquatic exercise “to build up muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, and more importantly to relieve stress.” In what city is the equine-only pool located? [Source:]

a. Beijing b. Shanghai c. Hong Kong d. Guangzhou

3. Brian Jurgens, a 26-year-old disabled army medic who lost both legs during a deployment in the Middle East, will soon benefit from a backyard manmade lagoon at his Hollister, Calif., home. He’ll use the pool for exercise and physical therapy. According to, the installation is being financed by five local veterans groups; contributions from companies; money raised through crowd-finding website; and the services of swimming pool designer and contractor Paolo Benedetti, who spearheaded the project. In what country was Jurgens severely injured?

a. Afghanistan b. Syria c. Jordan d. Iraq

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

2015/3.1, March 4 — Hot Water Comforts, Digital Dynamics, Efficient Lighting and more

March 4, 2015


Thoroughly Modern

He first became interested in computer-assisted design systems when they were still just a trade-show novelty, reports Barry Justus. But now, he says, he can’t imagine developing his designs or communicating with his clients in any other way. [more]


#17: Rolled-Edge Spa

The hot-water experience should be about comfort and relaxation. As Mike Farley discusses here, however, these niceties are often overlooked — a fact that led him to devote a video to what’s involved in making custom concrete spas easy on bathers’ necks and shoulders. [more]


Illuminating Benefits

Those who manage large aquatic facilities are always looking for ways to save money. As Mike Fowler observes, that’s why so many of them are switching over to a new high-efficiency, low-maintenance approach to lighting their pools, spas and other waterfeatures. [more]


Artful Restoration

The restoration of significant architectural sites is always a challenge. But as Jeffrey Boucher of Drakeley Swimming Pool Co. reports, it rises to an even higher level when the project includes restoration of a mural painted by Alexander Calder. Here, Boucher tells the story of a high-stakes project filled with interesting twists and turns — not least of which is the revelation of a deeper connection between the watershaping team and this particular pool.
This article, originally published in May 2011, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Clearing the Shelves

The sudden collapse of a shelf in his office has led Jim McCloskey to begin clearing out his workspace — and offer readers of WaterShapes a golden opportunity (and a last chance) to pick up back issues of the magazine printed between February 1999 and July 2011. [more]


Artful Education

The early agricultural and civic development of Anaheim, Calif., was all about managing water. Here, Mark Holden discusses how this history led to construction of a compact park that celebrates that past — well worth a visit if you want a break from the rides at Disneyland. [more]


Olympics Dept.: Determined athlete demonstrates a new event — downhill snow swimming
. [more]

A weak butterfly, but the course did need grooming.

This Is Nuts Dept.: Soccer hooligans do serious damage to a Bernini fountain in Rome. [more]
Crowds and alcohol don’t mix, but why the vandalism?


Staying Current
Ten years ago in her Natural Companions column, Stephanie Rose wrote in great detail about what she did to keep her design work from falling into any sort of rut. To revisit her secrets, click here.


Zodiac Introduces Jandy Pro Series JXi Pool Heater

Zodiac Pool Systems
(Vista, CA) has released the Jandy Pro Series JXi high-efficiency gas heater for residential pools. The units come in four sizes and work with the company’s Versa Plumb system, making integration with other equipment easier for pool professionals and offering increased hydraulic efficiency, lower power usage and minimized plumbing. For details, click here.

Atlantic Water Gardens Introduces New Wall Spouts

Atlantic Water Gardens (Mantua, OH) has released wall spouts in two new styles — Mantova and Ravenna — that bring old-world charm to modern watershapes. Made of cast brass, the heavy-duty fixtures have an oil-rubbed bronze finished suited to contemporary wall and patio designs and can be lit from behind to enhance the nighttime experience. For details, click here.


Security Guard Photographs

Ghost at Swimming Pool

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

1. According to the African tabloid Daily Sun, a night security guard captured the image of a ghost at the swimming pool he was watching, using his cell phone camera. In what country was the supposedly haunted pool located? [Source:]

a.. Zambia b. Kenya c. Rwanda d. South Africa

2. According to, swimming champion Michael Phelps, who so far has garnered 22 Olympic gold medals, has announced that he and his girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, have become engaged. Johnson is a former beauty queen winner. What title did she hold?

a. Miss California b. Miss Texas c. Miss Virginia d. Miss Florida

3. Controversial rap star Vanilla Ice has been helping construct a special swimming pool for a 6-year-old boy who is wheelchair-bound (among other physical issues) after being severely injured in a car accident. The pool, reports, has become part of Vanilla Ice’s cable TV show, The Vanilla Ice Project (DIY Network). On the other side of the karmic coin, writes, the rapper was arrested in South Florida last month and charged with a crime. What was it?

a. Attempted rape b. Burglary c. DUI d. Grand theft auto

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

2015/2.2, February 18 — Saltwater Concerns, Ingenious Lap Lane, Quick Compaction and more

February 18, 2015


Formal Ease

Faced with the challenge of fitting a lap pool into a relatively compact backyard space, Randy Beard used geometry to his advantage in crafting a perimeter-overflow/ vanishing-edge pool and spa that aligns sweepingly with the homeowners’ needs. [more]


Coping with Salt

They’re wildly popular, writes Scott Cohen, but he’s seen enough problems with salt-chlorination systems in his role as a construction-defects expert witness that he thinks it’s wise to make homeowners aware of the possible drawbacks associated with this technology. [more]


Quicker Compaction

On many projects, excavation calls for adding competent fill to establish a foundation solid enough to support a concrete structure. That step can be laborious and expensive, observes Paolo Benedetti, who describes a time- and money-saving alternative in this article. [more]


A Place for All Seasons

With its elegant structures, extensive sculpture gardens, beautiful watershapes and exquisitely maintained grounds, this 12-1/2-acre estate in Highland Park, Ill., is the product of two decades of ongoing design work by architects and environmental designers Suzanne and Ron Dirsmith. Among the many works of art and perfectly scaled amenities placed on the property, the project’s pool and spa create spectacular spaces for relaxation or exercise.
This article, originally published in September 2002, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Seeing Nature

A recent trip to Hawaii took Jim McCloskey back to a park he’d visited before but didn’t recall clearly. This time, lifted by his wife’s enthusiasm and the joy of sharing the place with two of his grown daughters, he saw it with his eyes wide open — and surely won’t forget it ever again. [more]


Crying Shame Dept.:
Body-image concerns make many U.K. women give up swimming. [more]

Willing to bet the same isn’t true in the U.S.?

It Takes a Pond Dept.: Indian village builds itself a watershape that helps overcome droughts. [more]
It took three years and boundless sweat equity.


Inquiring Minds
Five years back, Brian Van Bower covered a topic of keen importance to any professional who wants to experience success in working with an affluent, demanding clientele. [more]


Keyboard Exercises

In his long publishing career, Jim McCloskey has done just about everything he’s ever wanted to do — and that includes, entirely through this WaterShapes newsletter, writing on a steady basis about places he’s seen that are near and dear to his aquatically avid heart. [more]


S.R. Smith Offers Information on Rails and Ladders

S.R. Smith
(Canby, OR) has published literature on its line of rails and ladders for use with swimming pools and spas. The six-page, full-color brochure discusses materials and finishes and the availability of sealed stainless steel rails designed for use with saltwater pools. It also highlights the designer-inspired Artisan Series, graced with stylish, sweeping curves. For details, click here.

Aquascape Introduces Automatic Dosing Systems

Aquascape (St. Charles, IL) now offers the Automatic Dosing System for ponds, fountains, and pondless waterfalls. Designed to help maintain optimal water quality by consistently and accurately applying specified quantities of up to four different water-treatment agents daily, the units adjust easily and indicate when treatment pouches need replacing. For details click here and refer to page 53 in the catalog.


County to Create Pool Network
Safe for People with Dementia

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

1. One country has started to establish a network of swimming pools that are safe for people living with dementia. The effort is called the Amateur Swimming Association’s Dementia Friendly Swimming Project. What country is it?

a.. Australia b. New Zealand c. Canada d. U.K.

2. A 54-year-old nurse and enthusiastic swimmer in Sheffield, England, has racked up an impressive number of miles in the local Hillsborough Leisure Center pool over the past 15 years. According to, how many miles does Jacqueline Anderson have under her swim goggles?

a. 1,326 b. 2,326 c. 3,326 d. 4,326

3. Florida’s Three Sisters Springs — located on the Crystal River some 80 miles north of Tampa — recently had to be temporarily closed to human swimmers and kayakers due to an influx of manatees seeking warm water during the winter months. How many of the gentle creatures showed up at the springs, according to

a. More than 100 b. More than 200 c. More than 300 d. More than 400

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

2015/2.1, February 4 — Disney’s Wave, Sloshing Fountains, Balanced Water and more

February 4, 2015


A Sloshing Mystery

More than 25 years ago — back before he became a professional watershaper — Jim Wilder encountered a fountain behavior he couldn’t explain. Since then, he’s figured it out and, in this article, shares his observations on how to work with this fascinating water effect. [more]


Finding Balance

When you get right down to it, observes Kim Skinner, maintaining a watershape is all about balance — that is, finding a way to keep key factors in the water’s chemistry at proper levels relative to one another. Here, he discusses a system that brings discipline to this juggling act. [more]


Remembering Andreas Sofikitis

Sharing his memories of the late Andreas Sofikitis,Skip Phillips conveys sadness at his friend’s untimely passing while offering a portrait of the whole man — an ingenious stone supplier and fabricator, a generous professional colleague and a fun-loving husband and father. [more]


All the Right Angles

Custom watershape designers and builders William Bennett and Walter Williams have established a reputation for tackling sophisticated projects for upscale clients in the vicinity of our nation’s capital. Their skills are definitely on display here, where they profile one of their most challenging projects — a backyard composition featuring a 220-foot perimeter overflow and a stylish abundance of right-angle turns.
This article, originally published in May 2008, has been digitized for all readers. Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study the craftsmanship in detail.


Riding a Golden Wave

The theme fountain for Disney’s California Adventure involved immense technical and operational challenges, recalls Dave Wooten. The result in an artificial ocean wave that you really should study the next time you visit the newest theme park in southern California. [more]


Life is Good Dept.:
Anita Ekberg’s passing reminds us all of an immortal fountain scene. [more]

She’s probably breaking some law, but who cares?

Silly Sports Dept.: Could these athletes be pursuing the world’s next big thing? [more]
It’s distinctly odd, butunderwater hockey rocks.


Global Watershaping

In his Currents column of February 2010, Mark Holden focused on the inevitability of a major trend that was then sweeping the watershaping industry. Is this phenomenon still so irresistible today? [more]


A Critical Eye

When Jim McCloskey looks at watershapes today, he’s amazed by how far things have come since WaterShapes started in February 1999 — and is particularly grateful that so many watershapers now do something as their projects progress that they seldom did in the past. [more]


Pentair Offers the BioShield Commercial UV System

(Sanford, NC) manufactures BioShield, a low-pressure ultraviolet sanitizing system for use on commercial pools. Designed to protect bathers from chlorine-resistant microorganisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, the units provide secondary disinfection while decreasing chemical consumption and improving air and water quality. For details, click here.

FX Luminaire Expands Line of LED Wall Lights

FX Luminaire (San Marcos, CA) has released model MO, an LED fixture designed for use as walkway or recessed ceiling lighting in commercial and residential landscapes. Available in four metal and ten powder-coated finishes, the units are powered by one or three LEDs for flexible light output and come with four colored filters and four faceplate options. For details, click here.


New Open-Air Swimming Pool to
Float on European Capital’s River

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

1. Residents of one European capital are being asked to fund — to the tune of $15 million — an open-air swimming pool floating in the river that runs through the city. The project is slated to be completed sometime next year. What are the European city and its river?

a. Berlin — River Spree b. Paris — River Seine
c. London – River Thames d. Rome — Tiber River

2. According to, a public swimming pool outside another European capital recently built a third changing room for people with a “neutral gender identity.” It reportedly is the first LGBT-certified swimming pool in the country, which is known for its “tolerance toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.” The dressing room will also help physically disabled individuals and those who have religious concerns regarding modesty to feel more comfortable changing clothes, the report adds. Outside what city is the pool located?

a. Copenhagen, Denmark b. Stockholm, Sweden
c. Helsinki, Finland d. Oslo, Norway

3. The Web site reports that Park Tae-hwan, South Korea’s only Olympic swimming champion, recently failed a doping test; the banned substance that turned up was testosterone. According to a preliminary investigation, the 25-year-old athlete did not deliberately take the drug. Rather, a hospital injected him with it during a chiropractic treatment, later claiming they didn’t know testosterone was prohibited.

True or false?

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

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