Athens, Ga. – Two fountains on the University of Georgia’s North Campus that have been dormant for more than a year will be gushing again soon-but not with water from the Athens municipal water system.
University physical plant workers plan to have the fountains beside Old College and on Herty Field in operation by May 1, in time to be enjoyed by thousands of visitors who will be on campus for spring commencement ceremonies May 9.
But the water circulating in the fountains will be non-potable water collected from air conditioner condensate and from lakes and wells on the university campus.
“We are all very pleased with the effort of the physical plant staff members to enable the fountains to be up and running in time for commencement as a tribute to our graduates,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “This effort is indicative of the hundreds of things they do every day to make this campus such a pleasant place to be.”
No drinkable water from the Athens water system will be used, said Dexter Adams, director of grounds for the physical plant.
“The fountains are a popular and beautiful attraction for the campus, and President Adams hoped they could be operable for commencement,” Dexter Adams said. “He asked physical plant to try to find a way to get them functioning and we’re pleased that we can do that.”
The fountains were turned off in late summer of 2007 as a water-saving measure to help Athens deal with a withering drought. The physical plant has determined that because of the long lay-off, the fountains need some minor mechanical repairs before being turned on again; that work is underway now.
Although drought conditions have eased, the university does not want to draw on municipal water for the fountains so alternate sources will be used. They include condensate collected from air conditioners on campus and water trucked in from lakes and wells on campus.
According to the physical plant, there is sufficient air conditioner condensate for the Old College fountain to function at full capacity. Physical plant workers are installing a plumbing project at Old College to capture reclaimed condensate and pump the water to refill the fountain on a long-term basis.
The Herty Field fountain, which is larger and requires more water, will operate on a limited basis while sources of condensate “make-up” water are evaluated. Dexter Adams said the university has plans to build cisterns to capture rain water and condensate to run the Herty Field fountain in the future. Also under consideration are modifications to the spray pattern of the fountains to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
The Herty Field plans will be constructed when funding allows.