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Learn how to build a pondless waterfall style water feature with a stream using a Berkey Waterfall & Stream Kit. This step-by-step guide provides detailed directions for building a pondless waterfall & stream as well as system maintenance information. Please contact us with any questions regarding the installation of a Berkey Waterfall & Stream System.


Learn How to Build a Waterfall & Stream (Pondless Water Feature):

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5-4: Level the Filter Tank Reservoir


Level the Filter Tank Reservoir and backfill up to where the T40SP Expansion Reservoir(s) will rest. Add a layer of compacted sand and slide the T40SP Expansion Reservoir(s) into place.

3-2: Place the Rubber Liner :


1. Lay the rubber liner over the fabric. Be sure that no rocks fall between the layer of underlayment and the liner, as this could damage the liner and possibly cause a leak.


2. Center the liner from top to bottom and from side to side. Don’t be in a hurry to cut off the excess liner, as it can be trimmed later. Always allow a little extra liner to overhang the sides. Up to 6” of excess liner can easily be folded under as the final rocks are being placed.


3. Avoid making lateral folds that can traverse water over the side wall. Keep in mind that all water that laps or splashes against a sidewall must be able to flow back into the channel. Be very attentive to this when placing the rocks.


4. Waterfall drops bunch and gather liner from the sides, so give yourself plenty of liner to work with in these areas.

Berkey Waterfall & Stream Kits provide advantages over other pondless waterfall systems. A clog-free reservoir, pump-protection filtering, and easy access to system hardware are just a few of the many unique advantages not provided with other pondless water feature systems on the market. Learn More 

A few of the topics addressed in the guide:


- How to build a pondless waterfall with a pool
- Waterfall & stream excavation details
- Pondless water feature system operation
- How to build a waterfall with a natural look
- Installing the system hardware and components

To download a printable PDF version of the following how to build a waterfall guide click here.

1-1a: Determine the Path of the Water Feature


When mapping out the path of your water feature, consider bends in the stream and waterfall drops. A natural looking stream channel should appear “ageless,” as if it has always been there. To best accomplish this, choose a location with a slope. If you don’t have much of a slope to work with, as an alternative you can choose to create water flowing from a boulder or rock grouping. You can also create a subtle rise in elevation with a well planted landscape berm or rock outcroppings that blur the transition from flat to slope.

Make sure that the water feature is following the appropriate length and width determined by the selected system. It is crucial to follow the size restraints for sufficient water storage. To ensure accurate length and width during excavation you can use tools such as marking paint to mark the determined path.

1-1b: Select a Spot for the Filter Tank Reservoir


In a Vanishing Water™ installation the Filter Tank Reservoir Reservoir can be located remotely from the end of the water feature. In relation to the end, the top of the Filter Tank Reservoir can be placed even with the ground level around the water feature (at grade) or it can be placed downhill from the water feature (below grade).

1-1c: Choose the Intake Route


The Filter Tank Reservoir can be positioned as needed to avoid an obstacle, keep it out of the lawn, or be best aligned with additional expansion reservoir units. 
The intake route is that of the pipe between the Fixed Skimmer and the Filter Tank Reservoir. With a Berkey System you can place the Filter Tank Reservoir away from the water feature enabling you to customize your intake route to best fit your landscape.


Common Intake Positioning:
Intake routes for 4” IPS pipe (up to 80 GPM) and 6” IPS pipe (up to 200 GPM) can have the intake pipe run straight and level up to 50 feet (10ft less per bend).

2-1: Excavate for the Pooling Finish or Stream Ending


Option 1: End in a Stream


To end your water feature as shown below to the left, excavate 6” deep at the same width as the stream.


Option 2: End in a Pooling Finish
Excavate 9” deep to allow a 3” deep pooling finish. If there is a waterfall above this, the length of this area should be at least 1-1/2 times the drop of the waterfall to contain the waterfall splash. For installations using the T390F Filter Tank Reservoir, excavate 10” deep to allow a 4” deep pooling finish.



3/4” of water will flow over the rock right up to the skimmer

The pooling finish area excavated.

The stream will drop into a 3” deep pooling finish flowing into the Fixed Skimmer.

2-2: Dig the Skimmer Pocket


The skimmer pocket is located at the end of the water feature. Excavate 6” deep for a stream without a finishing pool and 9” deep for a 3” pooling finish.

Excavate 14” front to back, and 20” left to right to create a skimmer pocket. This will ensure there is plenty of room when connecting the Fixed Skimmer.

To ensure there is plenty of room when connecting the Large Fixed Skimmer, excavate 17” front to back and 26” left to right to create a skimmer pocket. 
*Excavate 19” deep if connecting to 
10” pipe.

Drill a 1/2” hole through the indent on the front of the Fixed Skimmer. This will allow water to drop below the top of the Fixed Skimmer and below the top of the gravel when the pump is turned off. 

2-3a: Excavate the Central-Stream Area


Excavate the Stream Channel
A natural looking stream shows signs of erosion from years of water carving a path through the landscape. Avoid a “flying stream look” where water runs over the surface or appears elevated without any aging or character. The following instruction is a general reference to keep the water flow within the stream channel and help you build a natural looking water feature.

While excavated depths will vary with each installation, the excavated stream depth should never be less than 6” deep. The excavated depth should increase where the stream drops. This will not only keep the flow of water within the stream, but also create the illusion that the water feature is a natural part of the landscape, not an addition to it.

The same ground slope with a stream that more closely parallels the natural slope will have shallower drops and generate fewer splashes, This uses less rock but produces less noise. Sweeping turns often complement a gradually sloping stream by adding a lateral dimension in place of dramatic vertical drop.

Larger drops create a dramatic look and increase the sound level. However, they require more rock and cause more splashing, which can contribute dramatically to increased evaporation.

2-3b: Cut Waterfall Drops in the Channel


Consider the following slope options when excavating for the waterfall drops
Depending on how the rocks will stack up – the top spill rock can rest (A) on the top of the step, (B) rest on a slightly notched shelf, or (C) for short drops, simply extend up an inch or two in front of the step.

Thick weir rocks may require a slightly recessed shelf to reduce the thickness of the weir. The back of the weir should match the gravel depth being placed in the stream channel.

Excavating a recessed shelf to accommodate the placement of thick weir rocks.

2-4: Waterfall Starter Excavation and Placement

Be sure to give the liner a little slack over the waterfall drops. Push liner into the corners and up against the sides so the liner isn’t stretched before or during rock placement.


Be careful of sharp rocks in the treads of your shoes when walking on the liner. Press liner into the corners before placing the rock.

Excavate a Shelf for the Waterfall Starter
Choose option A or B.

Option A:
This configuration requires the least amount of space.

Option B:
If the start of the waterfall will be placed directly at the viewing eye level, a slightly recessed starter disguises the hardware and provides a more natural start to the water feature.

3-1: Place the Underlayment


Remove Sharp Debris from Stream Channel
Make sure the excavated channel is free of rocks, sticks and roots that could puncture the liner. Where several layers of rocks will be stacked, a slight amount of wetted sand can be added to make a smoother subsurface.

Lay the Fabric Underlayment
Excess fabric should be used for cushioning large rock placements.

4-1: Place the Rocks :



At waterfall drops place a section of fabric underlayment over the liner. This will cushion the liner from heavy rock placements and also allow any pooling water to slowly drain through the fabric when the system is shut off.

Place only rocks with smooth edges against the liner. If a rock has a sharp edge, reposition it so the sharp edge is away from the liner.

Place rock in the stream channel according to the rock size selected from the Vanishing Stream Sizing Chart 

Try different rock placements to achieve the look you are after. Leave most of the rock out of the pooling finish area until after the intake pipe has been run through the liner.

5-1: Cut Off the Applicable Ports


Cut off the ports that you plan to use, either before or after placing the Filter Tank Reservoir.


Note: Filtrific provides different port size options with each Filter Tank Reservoir. Make sure the Flex-Coupling included with the kit fits over the port before cutting.

On a Filter Tank Reservoir:

If adding a T40SP Expansion Reservoir, cut off the 
“More Capacity” port.

There are multiple “Discharge” ports to choose from. The pump discharge can exit either the front or the back of the Filter Tank Reservoir.

On an Expansion Reservoir:

A “More Capacity” port is located on both sides of the T40SP Expansion Reservoir. Cut off the port that will be on the same side as the Filter Tank Reservoir’s “More Capacity” port when slid together.

5-2: Excavate for the Filter Tank Reservoir & Any Expansion Reservoirs :


Now that you have established where finish grade will be around the water feature you can excavate for the Filter Tank Reservoir. Dig the hole so the top rim of the Filter Tank Reservoir is level with the lowest edge of the water feature.

Note: When excavating make sure to plan for the Filter Tank Reservoir and any Expansion Reservoirs. Make sure the Filter Tank Reservoir and any Expansion Reservoirs will fit within the excavated area with about 6” of room for connection fittings.


Allow room for 1” of compacted sand below the Filter Tank Reservoir. This cushions the bottom of the Filter Tank Reservoir and also makes leveling easier.

5-3: Position the Filter Tank Reservoir & Any Expansion Reservoirs

8-3b: Drain Options :


Drain to Daylight
Route the overflow pipe to drain onto an existing slope. This is suggested when you have a slope in your landscape that supports excess water run off.

5-5: Connect the Expansion Tank Manifold to Filter and Expansion Tanks

Level the Filter Tank Reservoir and backfill up to where the T40SP Expansion Reservoir(s) will rest. Add a layer of compacted sand and slide the T40SP Expansion Reservoir(s) into place. 


The T75F (shown right) has a T40SP Expansion Reservoir connection port on the front of the tank. The T40F (not shown) connects to the T40SP Expansion Reservoir using the back-lower port labeled “More Capacity.”

6-1: Run the Intake Pipe to the Water Feature :


At Grade
Step 1: Excavate the intake trench from the edge of the liner to the Filter Tank Reservoir. If the Filter Tank Reservoir is level with the water feature, dig the intake trench so the pipe will be level.



Below Grade
Step 1:When the top of the Filter Tank Reservoir is placed lower than the rim of the pooling finish, the rim of the pool becomes your reference point. To find the penetration point of the intake pipe, measure down 
8-3/4” for 4” and 6” pipe and 10-3/4” for 10” pipe. Elbow down accordingly to connect to the Filter Tank Reservoir intake port.

Step 2: Place the Flex-Coupling over the intake port and tighten the stainless steel clamp.



Step 3: Insert the intake pipe into the coupling and tighten the stainless steel clamp.

6-2: Run the Intake Pipe Through the Liner and Connect to the Fixed Skimmer :

Step 1: Using the cardboard tracing pattern, draw a circle on the liner at the center point of the pipe. 


Note: Allow an expansion fold below the pipe.

Step 2: With scissors, cut out the traced circle from the liner.

Step 3: Stretch the liner over the pipe; this creates a tight sleeve 
band around the pipe.

Step 4: Place the flex-collar over the rubber band and tighten.

Step 5: Connect the Flex-Coupling to the pipe.

Step 6: Insert the skimmer outlet to the Flex-Coupling.

Step 7: Check to ensure all stainless steel clamps have been tightened. Then firmly backfill over the intake pipe so that it will stay level when it comes time to fill the system with water.

7-1: Connect the Pump Discharge and Flex-Pipe

9-2: Turn On the Water Feature


Water should return to the Filter Tank Reservoir before all the water is pumped out of the tank. If you run out of water this indicates you are short on containment. If you intend to turn the system off regularly, additional water storage should be added (T40SP Expansion Reservoir).

Connect the discharge to the pump and lower into the Filter Tank Reservoir.

An optional flow control valve allows fine tuning of water flow.

Run the flex-pipe to the Waterfall Starter.

Connect the pass-thru Flex-Coupling to the discharge port and slide the discharge pipe through the port. Use PVC Solvent Cement to connect the discharge to the flex-pipe.

7-2: Connect to the Waterfall Starter(s)


At the top of the stream repeat “Connecting to Liner” (section 6-2 and 6-3, steps 1-5) using the smaller tracing disc and 3” pipe included in the Waterfall Starter Kit.


Step 6: Insert the Waterfall Starter outlet to the Flex-Coupling.

7-3: Disguise the Waterfall Starter :


Place rock on top of the Waterfall Starter so the source of water is hidden.

7-4: Place the Cement Behind the Waterfall Weir Rocks


At each waterfall drop, place a strip of concrete over the extended fabric to force the water flow over the weir rocks.

Fabric allows trapped water to drain down stream when the system is shut-off.

8-1: Connect the T40SP Expansion Reservoir Venting


The air vent on the T40SP Expansion Reservoir helps create a smooth transition for water flowing in and out of the tanks.

The vent should be placed in a planting area, or valve box, and should be positioned higher than the Filter Tank Reservoir overflow.

8-2: Connect the 165XP Expansion Tank Venting :

For Standard Flow installations the lid for the T165XP Expansion Reservoir includes air venting. For High-Flow installations additional venting can be added by connecting a vent pipe to the “Overflow” port.

8-3a: Filter Tank Reservoir Overflow :


The overflow allows excess rainwater to go out of the overflow rather then puddling up at the base of the water feature.

How the Overflow Works: 
When the system is turned off, water in the stream refills the Filter Tank Reservoir and Expansion Tanks to the bottom of the “Overflow” port. Rain water will replenish any evaporation loss until the water level in the Filter Tank Reservoir rises to the bottom of the overflow. Excess rain water will now flow out the overflow to prevent a standing pool of water from developing over the top of the gravel when the system is not in use.

Drain to Storm Drain
If you can’t drain to above ground, tie the overflow pipe into a existing yard drain or downspout drain.

Note: If neither of the above options are possible, excess rain water can be drained into a gravel swamp at a location away from the Filter Tank Reservoir.

9-1: Fill the System with Water


Make sure the intake pipe has been backfilled. If you are installing an optional Auto-Fill or Pump Shut-Off, these should be positioned (see section 10) before adding water. Fill the system to the bottom of your overflow and turn the pump on.

10-1: Install the Auto-fill, Pump Shut-off, and Accessories :


If you are installing an Auto-Fill device and a Pump Shut-off, make sure the Auto-Fill is positioned above the Pump Shut-off level so water can be added before the pump switch turns the pump off. If the Auto-Fill is positioned too low it will never have a chance to 
add water.


For installation instructions refer to instructions included in each kit.


Berkey Waterfall & Stream Kits click  here 

9-3: Adjust the Fixed Skimmer as Needed


Adjust the Skimmer Height


Trim or lower the skimmer as needed to accommodate the pumping volume. You do not want the operating water level flowing over the top of the liner. The operating water level should be no closer than 2” from the top of the liner.

To Lower the Skimmer


The Fixed Skimmer is designed to be lowered in two ways. The Eccentric Coupling can be rotated to lower the operating water level (A), and for high flows the Fixed Skimmer opening can also be cut down (B). Either or both of these adjustments will lower the operating level of the pooling finish.

To Raise the Skimmer
To raise the skimming depth, simply rotate the Eccentric Coupling.

9-4: Final Tasks


Finish placing rock around the Fixed Skimmer. The Fixed Skimmer can be hidden with natural elements or finished with a Stainless Steel Grate (use the riser kit if there will be leaves falling into the stream).


Things to check:


  • Make sure all stainless steel clamps have been tightened before backfilling.

  • Make sure all water flowing down the stream is contained within the liner.

  • Make sure there is at least 2” between the top of the liner and the operating level of the pooling finish. If not, raise the liner accordingly, shorten the height of the skimmer, or reduce the pumping volume.

  • Make sure that the system can be turned off and then turned back on without having to add water.

  • Make sure that the terrain around the Filter Tank Reservoir is graded so surface water does not collect around the unit.

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