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Amid the dire news of drought and water cutbacks in our state, some good news: Weeks of repairs are complete, and The Fountain at The Circle is operating around the clock again—now with new pumps and filtration system that allow it to operate more efficiently than ever.

The Fountain, which has always operated on a closed system featuring state-of-the-art diverters and marine quality pumps, continually recycles the water it contains, meaning only a minuscule amount of-the hundreds of gallons of water that cycle through it is lost to evaporation each day. The new, state-of-the-art fountain works will likely improve that performance, while allowing this beloved Berkeley landmark to continue delighting passers-by.

The new pumps were just part of a major upgrade of the fountain, which took close to 10 weeks to complete as a joint project of the City of Berkeley and Friends of the Fountain and Walk (FOFW), the neighborhood-based nonprofit that works with the city to assure that these historic treasures are well maintained. While city staff and contractors provided much of the labor for the improvements, donations from generous supporters of FOFW covered much of the cost of the project.

Among the other accomplishments of the past 10 weeks:

> The lights in the middle bowl of the fountain, which had developed leaks, were replaced.

> In the main basin of the fountain, a new leak-proof membrane was applied, replacing a cracked and deteriorating old one. The tiles around the rim of the basin were cleaned and re-grouted.

> The entire concrete structure of the fountain – from the tip of the finial to the toes of the bear cub sculptures – was cleaned of grime and rust.

> The “art elements” of the fountain (bear cubs, volutes and finial), were recorded using 3-D scanning to preserve their precise dimensions should they ever need replacing.

The Fountain at The Circle is a circa-1996 replica of the original 1911 fountain designed by architect John Galen Howard and sculptor Arthur Putnam. Berkeley’s first public work of art, it was damaged beyond repair after being struck by a runaway truck in the late 1950s. It is the centerpiece of Howard’s elegant Beaux Arts plan of The Circle and adjoining Fountain Walk, which has been declared a Berkeley historical landmark.

Friends of the Fountain and Walk is an all-volunteer, state and federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that led the effort to restore these landmarks to their original glory. Today, it continues its work as steward of these civic treasures by raising funds, volunteering and working with the City of Berkeley to maintain and improve them.

FOFW thanks the community for its patience while these needed repairs were made – and for its continuing financial support that helped make it possible.

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