July 28, 2015 | The drought and the fountain: A few facts

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FOFW friends and neighbors:

As the drought continues and water restrictions tighten, some of you may wonder: Why does the Fountain at The Circle continue to operate?

It’s a reasonable question, to which there is a good answer: The fountain is – so far – drought-compliant.

The fountain — a 1996 reproduction of the original, a landmark 1911 work of art destroyed by a runaway truck nearly six decades ago –operates on a closed pumping system featuring state-of-the-art diverters and high-quality pumps. This system, which was recently upgraded thanks to your support, continually recirculates the water in the fountain, at a rate of almost 200 gallons per minute. Over a 24-hour period, this system retains all but a minimal amount of water.

This recirculating system meets current state restrictions on water use for such mechanisms as public fountains. (You can find the latest restrictions ordered by the State Water Resources Control Board here: http://bit.ly/1JMyoC5)

The City of Berkeley and Friends of the Fountain and Walk already are adhering to other drought restrictions. The grass areas around The Circle are going unwatered, and new plantings on Fountain Walk are being efficiently and minimally watered through a city-installed drip line.

FOFW volunteers, who carry out primary maintenance on the fountain, are also doing all they can to avoid having to empty the fountain pool when such things as algae blooms or pranks like soapings occur. Instead, they are scrubbing the pool and skimming and treating the water to address these problems and keep the fountain flowing with the same water.

Should the State Water Board order fountains such as this one shut down, the City and FOFW would comply. That action could come at a cost, however, as shutting the fountain off completely could result in damage to the pumping system.

For the sake of keeping our neighborhood landmark and treasure in the best shape possible, let’s all hope the drought begins easing soon.

Thank you. And check back on this blog for updates.

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