Bylaws & Safety
Before you consider installing a pond or any other water feature we recommend to consult your municipality's Zoning Department for possible water depth restrictions, as well as fencing, and/or building permit requirements for your particular area. You can usually find a listing for the Zoning Department in the blue pages of your local telephone directory, sometimes under its own heading but usually under the Building, Engineering, or Planning Departments. If not, just call City Hall, and they will direct you to the appropriate department. This is a very important issue. Bylaws differ from city to city and may even be different from one block to the next. A five-foot deep fish pond in the front yard may not pose a problem in a rural setting but may well be a danger spot in a downtown location or next to your local elementary school.
The best approach is to first make a sketch of your property, showing the proposed location, shape, size and depth of your water feature. Then go down to City Hall in person, present your plan to the Zoning Department, and ask them to approve it in writing. This way, you have complete peace of mind knowing that your pond falls within your municipality's guidelines and does not become a legal concern down the road. Even if a bylaw does not exist in your community, use your common sense and exercise caution where children are involved.
Before you get the shovel out of the shed you might want to make a few more inquiries. Think of underground services like sewers, gas and power lines, cable TV, telephone, etc. Be safe and call before you dig.
Don't forget to inform your insurance company about your new pond. They always like to know what's going on in and around your property.
If you plan to operate electrical equipment in your pond, such as a fountain pump or underwater lighting, make sure that you use approved equipment only and connect it to a properly grounded and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected outlet only. Most outdoor receptacles on newer homes are already GFCI protected. When in doubt, ask your electrician for assistance. Carefully read all instructions supplied before operating any equipment. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines. Do not run extension cords across your lawn. Not only are they not approved for use around the pond but they will only get chewed up by your lawn mower, and you risk getting electrocuted.