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01.24.12Alan Harris

What’s Not To Love About Water…Fountains?

This water fountain received a landscape face lift and a second life as the East Garden at The Galleria Office Park in Atlanta

Previously in I LOVE WATER…FOUNTAINS (But Not Everyone Does) it was clear I have some favorite water fountains. So, who doesn’t love water fountains? Namely owners and here are three reasons why:

  • Illegal Water Use – during times of drought municipalities often implement water restrictions which may require the water  fountains to be turned off.
  • Power – water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon, which means Buckingham Fountain moves about 3500 tons of water each hour which takes a lot of energy and costs a lot of money.
  • Maintenance – leaves, sludge, algae, corrosion, equipment fatigue, freezing temperatures, college fraternities with soap, etc. combine to require monthly or more frequent and costly contracts.

So what happens to water fountains that are no longer loved or at least not loved enough to continue paying the piper or finding a way to make it rain? The good news is with a little, or a lot of creativity a fountain can have a second useful and productive life.

Such was the case for Childress Klein Properties, owner of the Atlanta Galleria Office Park, who was motivated by drought conditions to convert the main water fountain to a more sustainable and water-wise space. Basins which once received the water from cascading falls became the new home for more sustainable materials. Shrubs, perennials and pavers replaced the water to form a new garden space inviting people to gather without having to wear a bathing suit.

Known as a knot garden because of its formal design in a square frame, the East Garden consists of a variety of aromatic plants with walking paths, edges formed by boxwood shrubs, and compartments that work together to form a cohesive design. Behind the scene, or at least under the mulch, drip irrigation provides supplemental water for the plants during times of low rainfall.

The East Garden has become a focal point for people as they arrive and for tenants viewing from the surrounding buildings. Leasing representatives believe it adds value and helps them market the space because prospective tenants like the view from the upper floors onto the garden.

Water conservation as a result of removing the fountain reduces about 2.9 million gallons of water used annually which lowers water bills by $21,620. Energy conservation, as a result of not running pumps and fountain equipment, saves an additional $55,000 a year.

Tenant response has been very positive to the improved green surroundings. They appreciate the fact the building owner is environmentally conscious and want to use what was an uninviting space in the traffic circle as an informal gathering spot.

From the owner’s perspective, the positive impact with tenants may be more powerful than the cost savings, because like water in a drought, goodwill created with customers is …priceless.

Do you have a story about a water fountain conversion? Leave a note in the comment section or post on my wall on Facebook. Who knows, your story may end up on www.ValleyCrestTakesOn.com.

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Full Disclosure: The East Garden was designed, installed and maintained by ValleyCrest. More pictures of this conversion and other water fountains can be found on the ValleyCrest Flickr page.

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.

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COMMENTS (4)

  1. Tuesday, 11:50 Ben Green

    I had a stint in las Vegas building pools and fountains. This is the land that water forgot yet walking along the strip or enjoying a vacation at a resort would give you the impression otherwise. In fact some of the most marquis properties on the strip are defined by their water features. Bellagio’s dancing fountain, Mirage’s volcano fountain, Treasure Island’s Sirene lagoon, Wynn’s waterfall and most recently Aria’s water wall and water/light show.

    Fountains historically served 2 very different functions. The first and most prominent theme is that a fountain is a sign of wealth. Second and very much forgotten was that fountains were utilitarian in use.

    Now a days if you see someone playing in a fountain, either they are drunk or a bum taking a bath………………unless you are in Portland or Seattle. These city centers have interpreted the idefinition of a fountain as a form of social interaction. They rise and fall, send chutes of water in the air and are always inviting for a dip.

    I just want to know why we continue to see the fountain as a waste when it truly has not been tapped for it’s potential. I agree that most fountains should go, but why are we throwing the baby out with the bath water, or fountain water for the sake of the argument.

    Lastly before I stir the pot too much, why are they not more regulations regarding the design of a fountain? You want to solve the problem, do it with good design, not by eliminating the design concept all together.

  2. Wednesday, 7:44 Alan Harris

    @Ben – thanks for your comments and sharing your experienes. In my previous post, I LOVE WATER…FOUNTAINS (But Not Everyone Does) http://tinyurl.com/7mmwqbs 2 of the fountains you mention were included in my favorites and 3rd was inlcuded part of the pictures in Flickr.
    .
    I have only studied the fountains in Portland and Seattle, but my next wine buying trip is going to be Portland so I’ll be sure to check them out.
    .
    This post has prompted a few emotional responses on LinkedIn. I have challenged those groups to provide me with references on how to make a water fountain “smart”. I have a lot of research and reading to do, which will hopefully lead to a future post.
    .
    One of the questions I recieved on LinkedIn was in regards to the savings:
    calculations 2.9 Million gallons was the amount of water required for replenishment due to evaporation from the fountain on an annual basis. This equates to ~3,877 CCF or ~ 323 CCF per month. Currently the cost of the water in Atlanta would be $1,983 a month or $23,796 a year (without sewer cost). As the cost of water has increased since the conversion the future savings will also increase. Here is a link to the Atlantawater calculator: http://www.atlantawatershed.org/billcalculator/default.php?ccf=323&noss=on

  3. […] who doesn’t love water fountains? Stay tuned to find out who and […]

  4. Wednesday, 8:48 Elegant Ground Water Features

    Those are gorgeous and I’m a fan of water features too, in fact, I got a couple at home. They make a great outdoor decor and the kids love them too 🙂

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