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Article 23: Pond Gear – Safety Devices, by Jeff Richardson

Posted by Jeff Richardson on

The following is a list of numerous safety devices that can be installed in and around your pond.  These include electrical, plumbing, barriers, alerting devices, or fish protection from various pond predators.  

GFCI Outlet: Ensure all electrical devices are plugged into outlets that are GFI protected.  The entire circuit (especially if standalone) can be protected at the panel using a GFCI breaker.  It is not desirable to install the GFI outdoors (moisture and temperature swings will shorten the life of the GFI outlet device).  Instead, install the GFI indoors and wire the pond outlets to “load” (downstream); if the GFI trips, all downstream outlets will also trip (only one GFCI upstream).  Note: Blank face GFIs (without outlet) can be purchased.

Pressure Switches: This is an electric switch which works with no moving mechanical parts on the outside of the switch. Instead, the switch closes when submerged in water.  If the device is removed from water, the switch opens.  The switch comes with a piggyback plug.  Plug the pressure switch into the outlet, and then plug your pump into the back of the pressure switch piggyback plug.  This will protect your pumps from ever running dry (which can damage them).  Further, it could save the lives of all your fish as well.  See cover photo.

Flow Switches: This is a PVC tee that has a sensor that turns as water flows through the pipe.  The sensor trips a magnetic switch if flow stops (pump failure).  This can be attached to audible, visual or other alarms.

Check Valves: Install a check valve on the discharge side of your pump only (not suction side).  This keeps water from running back to the pump in the event your pump stops.  This will keep it from draining upstream components and from turning the impellers backwards (which can damage the pump).  Most check valves must be installed into a specific orientation for them to function properly (usually marked on the valve). 

Overflow Line: In the event your pond or stream receives too much water from excessive rain or runoff, or overfilling by mistake, install an overflow pipe just above the full system surface level.  Ensure the plumbing is diverted safely to your waste or sewer system away from the pond system, house foundation or septic field.

Storm Drains: If you have sensitive locations (such as equipment within housings, electrical outlets, or devices below ground), where you do not want incidental water to go caused by ground water, runoff, rain or overflows, ensure you have a place for unexpected water to go.  Add storm drains in these locales and ensure the lines slope at a ¼” per foot to your waste system or sewer.  Keep this water out of your pond!

Barriers: Ponds and other water features can present a drowning hazard to children or animals.  Codes in your area may require the water feature to be fenced – and in some places, locked.  Other safety equipment may include special nets that keep kids and pets safe that are designed to cover the pond and support their weight.  Some lesser netting is available to keep predators from poaching your fish.

Decoys and Refuges: There are various animal decoys placed in or around your pond to deter predators from hunting you pond.  Some are low tech; others move or detect movement activating some action.  You may want to also incorporate or install refuges for your fishes to hide safely away from predators. 

Alarms and Indicators: There are a myriad of alarms, sensors, or indicators that can detect activity around your pond.  Pool alarms can alert you to animals or children in or near your pond.  Security cams, movement sensors that can turn lights on or even shoot water towards the movement are just a few.  Still others can make audible alarms if power is lost to a circuit or flow from a pump stops.  I did a low tech approach; my pond lights are on the pond GFI circuit.  If it trips, the lights do not come on indicating that the pump is off.

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