Going With the Flow: employing the proper pumps a vital component in creating eye-catching water features

By Deb Roth and Steven Cox

HeartSong WaterScapes relies on Griswold E, F & G Series centrifugal pumps for all of its water features. The Griswold pumps pictured here have been performing perfectly for 14 years at the Canyon Isles housing development in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Photo courtesy of Griswold Pump Company

Jack Klein has a colorful, and apt, way of describing the topography of the East Coast of South Florida as it abuts the Atlantic Ocean: “We don’t have any rocks down here, we’re as flat as a pancake.” No rocks mean no hills, no valleys — and no waterfalls.

Enter Bob Heartsong. Originally from Naperville, Ill., Heartsong moved to the Miami area nearly 30 years ago. In his search for work, he found employment as a construction-crew laborer for a company that renovated swimming pools so that they would look more like natural lagoons. In this line of work Heartsong found his muse and developed a knack for designing water features. In 1985 he opened Heartsong Ponds & Waterfalls, Inc. (now HeartSong WaterScapes, Inc.).

In that time, Heartsong — often with the assistance of Klein, owner/operator of Jack Klein Associates (JKA) and its subsidiary, Klein Pump — estimates that he has designed and constructed more than 800 water features in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — from small backyard koi ponds to massive multi-waterfall entrances that are located at some of the area’s most desirous housing and golfing communities.

None of the water features that HeartSong, or any other company in the industry, create can come into being without hundreds of hours being devoted to their design and operation. Although the breathtaking vistas that are created grab all of the attention, that “wow” factor wouldn’t be possible if not for the performance of the equipment that the viewing public never sees. For example, the key components at the heart of any water feature are the pumps that keep the water flowing continuously and trouble free.

For nearly three decades now, the pump style of choice for HeartSong WaterScapes has been centrifugal pump technology, which Heartsong was introduced to by Jack Klein.

“What I wanted in a pump was a lot of volume, anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons per minute per pump,” said Heartsong.

Knowing the applications for which Heartsong would use the pumps, Klein had no hesitation recommending centrifugal pump technology.

“They were having trouble finding high-volume, low-head pumps that needed to be energy efficient because these things run 15 or 16 hours a day and they pump a lot of water—1,000 gallons a minute for a small waterfall to two or three pumps pumping 2,000 gallons per minute for a large waterfall,” said Klein. “He started using centrifugal pumps, and he’s been using them ever since.”

Centrifugal pumps are a top choice for meeting the needs of water feature construction and operation because they are engineered for flexibility, durability and versatility, with a number of design innovations over the years helping increase the pump’s performance in all of those areas. They are available with a wide range of sizes and capacities that make them ideal for any water-pumping application.

The pumps generally feature flanged cast-iron casings that are tapped for a drain, vent and pressure gauge and include a suction wear ring that can be rotated to various discharge positions. Certain centrifugals offer heavy-duty bronze shaft sleeves and bearings that insulate the shaft from abrasion and contact with pumped liquids, and a fully enclosed single-piece cast-bronze impeller that is precision-balanced to limit thrust load and reduce pressure in the sealing area. Options can also include an enhanced power frame that increases performance and flexibility while simplifying maintenance.


Centrifugal pumps can be operated via close-coupled NEMA electric motors or frame-mounted with a coupling to electric motors, engines, steam turbines, or even belt drives. Flexible coupling to motors is also offered, including open drip-proof, totally enclosed, and explosion-proof motors. Many centrifugal pumps offer 360-degree mounting capabilities that greatly extend and enhance installation options, including vertical mounting for close-coupled configurations when space is at a premium. Some centrifugal pump designs now offer a back pullout that permits easy removal of the pump assembly for maintenance that doesn’t disturb the piping connections. Many styles of end-suction centrifugal pumps have enlarged pump suction and discharge nozzles that cut down on friction and result in less component wear.

Perhaps the biggest advantage for centrifugal pumps in water feature applications is their ability to meet ANSI standards. The leading lines of ANSI centrifugal pumps have as much as two times the area in their casing and stuffing box/seal clearance areas, which allows them to handle volumes as high as 4,000 gpm. Other features of some lines of ANSI centrifugal pumps are self-tightening impellers that reduce leaks and failures. Many of the newer lines of ANSI centrifugal pumps also feature enhanced power frames, which can be 33-percent stronger than previous models, that increase performance and longevity, and allow the pumps to be utilized in severe operating conditions while decreasing maintenance.

Centrifugal pumps also offer another must-have feature for waterfall operation <dash> reliability. A water feature loses its effect when the pumps fail; and instead of seeing water cascading over rocks and settling into a pristine lagoon, passers-by are treated to the site of repair crews removing a malfunctioning pump.

“I have some centrifugal pumps out there, from Griswold, that have been in service for 20-plus years,” said Heartsong. “They last a very, very long time, even in saltwater situations. I’ve never had to go in there and pull one out and replace it with anything else.”

Another key for HeartSong WaterScapes is the fact that most centrifugal pumps are also easily configurable to meet the needs of a specific project. The most common sizes used by HeartSong WaterScapes are 8×8, 8×6 and 6×10 with motors that range between 10 and 25 horsepower. There are also smaller residential applications that use pumps that are powered by 5- and 7.5-horsepower motors.

Although each HeartSong WaterScapes design is unique, if a water feature is to operate reliably and efficiently one thing needs to be uniform — the use of centrifugal-style pumps that keep the water flowing 24/7/365.

Deb Roth is the owner of HeartSong WaterScapes, Inc., Jupiter, Fla. She can be reached at 561-747-1476. For more on her company, or to see examples of the projects that HeartSong WaterScapes has worked on over the years, visit www.heartsongwaterscapesonline.com

Steven Cox is a regional manager for Grand Terrace, Calif.-based Griswold™ Pump Company, an operating company within Dover Corporation’s Pump Solutions Group (PSG™). He can be reached at 229-223-4817 or Steve.Cox@pumpsg.com  For more information about Griswold pumps, visit www.griswoldpump.com

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *