01.10.12Alan Harris

I LOVE WATER…FOUNTAINS (But Not Everyone Does)

Buckingham FountainBuckingham Fountain in Chicago
When the wind blows (when doesn't it blow) you don't want to be down wind

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Flemming
Fountain of NationsFountain of Nations at Epcot
Next to the fireworks this is my favorite thing to see.
Lumia at AriaLumia at Aria
The effects created with water are amazing, but the lighting technique is mesmerizing

Photo Courtesy of SirSnapsAlot
The Gardens at Villa d' EsteThe Gardens at Villa d' Este
Over 500 fountains and most are over 450 years old!

Photo Courtesy of My Summer Vacation

The sound of moving water is usually associated with peace and tranquility. Visually, water fountains can evoke a variety of responses from pure, unadulterated awe to romantic ahs. My favorite water fountains include:

Buckingham Fountain in Chicago was built in 1927, 3 pumps housed in 875 sq. ft. combine to provide 515 horse power to move over 14,000 gallons per minute of the 1.5 million gallons in the basin through 134 jets. When the wind is not blowing the central jet shoots water 150 feet into the air and is a spectacular site.

The Fountain of Nations in Epcot at Walt Disney World was my first experience of a fountain choreographed to music and lights. During the “shows” which start every 15 minutes, 324 jets shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air. Even between the shows 30,000 gallons of water cascade gracefully from one level to another.

Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas…my first thought was this is the Fountain of Nations on steroids. My second thought was yep, definitely the Fountain of Nations on steroids. This bad boy consists of 1214 jets shooting rivers of water up to 400 feet in the air before the H2O molecules fall back into the 9 acre, 22 million gallon Lake Bellagio. Oh yeah and did I mention all of this is beautifully choreographed with lights to music.

Lumia and Focus at CityCenter at Aria Resort & Casino , Las Vegas…if it is possible to create a Fourth of July fireworks display with lights and water you will find it here. What the central fountain (Lumia) is able to do with water molecules is breathtaking and almost makes you miss the curved wall of water (Focus) cascading at the entrance. To fully appreciate the full visual effect be sure to go at night and leave time to go inside and see Glacia, Halo and Latisse which are columns of ice, cyclones of water and a two story wall of water.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy is one Baroque fountain that does not need to be fixed. Completed just over 250 years ago, the fountain has its roots dating back to 19 BC when it was the terminus to a 13 mile (21 km) part of the massive Roman aqueduct system. Today the fountain uses recycled water, but you can still drink from the aqueduct system constantly flowing from a pipe on the steps in front of the fountain.

The Gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli is the home to over 500 fountains which in itself is spectacular, but even more phenomenal is the fact the fountains were constructed over 450 years ago years before electricity and pumps were available. The most renowned designer of the 16th century used Roman techniques of hydraulic engineering to “power” the fountain. Of course it helped that they were able to divert part of a river and a natural spring along with a tremendous amount of elevation change.

These are my top 5 fountains. If you have a favorite fountain not listed please comment below and include a link to a picture or video. You can see more of my pictures of these fountains on my Facebook or on the ValleyCrest Flickr page.

So, who doesn’t love water fountains? Stay tuned to find out who and why.

If you liked this post, please share it with a friend, leave a comment, check out my previous posts and follow me on Twitter @h20Matters.


P.S. One of the benefits I enjoy about writing these posts is researching and learning more about the subject matter. While composing these posts I learned two of my favorite fountains were designed by WET Design whose founder worked as an Imagineer which hosts a third fountain on my Top 5 list. You can see their outstanding and creative fountains on You Tube.

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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 National Sales Operations Support Manager and Regional Sales Leader for our landscape maintenance division.


  1. Tuesday, 6:21 Richard Restuccia

    Alan I really like the pictures of all the fountains on Facebook and flickr. I especially like the fountains that were converted to planters. You would never know they were water fountains originally. When are you going to discuss the issue of fountains and water waste?

  2. Tuesday, 1:46 Jason

    I love water fountains, it shows the one true resource we really need in its true beauty. However to people who look for leaks for a living it reminds us of how much is wasted each day through leaks, that are not economically worth fixing to the water companies. How stupid must I sound to the people of Africa and parts of Asia?

  3. Tuesday, 2:34 Dave Vonheeder

    Great article! Yes, water is a vital resource that can be abused and taken for granted in the developed and developing economies but, as your few examples have illustrated, it can also be used as a material to create magical and inspiring works of art that connect people through time and across cultural divides.

    PS Fantasmic at Disneyland and World of Color at California Adventure are pretty amazing water shows as well.

  4. Tuesday, 3:22 Caroline Weilert

    I love fountains too, Alan. You’ve named some of the best. Just down the street though from the Trevi fountain in Piazza Navona in Rome are the beautiful Bernini fountains. They are some of my favorites. Also, they aren’t fountains per se, but Disney knows how to get things right. The World of Color water extranvaganza at California Adventure is by far the most mesmerizing show of dancing water ever to be produced.

  5. Tuesday, 5:02 Alan Harris

    @ Richard thanks for the kind remarks. This is a first in a series and next up is a case study of a fountain repurposed and will be posted in a week or two so be sure to check back. I thought I would lead with this one to see if I could get some opposing view points.

    @ Jason – we really are mesmerized by fountains and I do think some of it is from our innate relationship with water. I have a future post that talks about water leaks and why they are not fixed. Keep an eye out for “Water Is Not An Option” later this month

    @ Caroline – I say Piazza Navona from a distance, but was just too tired to walk into the Piazza to fully appreciate the fountain. I have not seen the World of Color in California Adventure, but will add it to my bucket list.

  6. Thursday, 12:54 Jason

    Thanks for the reply, and will keep a keen eye out for your post on water leaks “water is not an option”

  7. Monday, 12:09 Lindsey Manthei O'Connor

    Fountains can definitely be water wasters, but your post reminds me of a project that the Philadelphia Zoo recently completed involving a fountain that was part of the zoo’s effort to cut water usage. The Zoo used the fountain as part of a man-made wetland system that helped reduce water usage at the zoo by 50%. You can read more about the project here:

  8. Monday, 12:18 Alan Harris

    @Lindsey – I remember reading this LASN and was very impressed with the holistic approach to this fountain. Thanks for the comment and the link.

  9. Monday, 5:38 Alan Harris

    @Dave – sorry for the slow response for some reason the spam filter caught your response. It must have been too complimentary! Thanks for the comment and kind words. I have seen Fantasmic in Disney World and agree it is entertaining, but if you ever make it to Orlando make sure you see both the Fountain of Nations and Illuminations which is the fountain/laser/pyrotechnic/fireworks show and is truly spectacular…although from a sustainability standpoint it probably contributes a little to climate modification (you can feel the heat from 300′ away!)

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