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CHS Pics | Scaffolding covers Cal Anderson’s Waterworks, a symbol of what lurks below

Work began this weekend to restore the Waterworks fountain in Cal Anderson, leaving the crumbling stone and cement structure covered in scaffolding, plywood, and tarps.

While the city enjoyed a bout of Seattle hot temperatures in the 70s, the fountain continued its long dry spell as contractors began the process of pulling the surface of the sculpture apart piece by piece to strengthen the structure, figure out what is wrong in the inner workings of the fountain, and, hopefully, get the whole thing pumping again.

CHS reported here on the work to replace the stone surface and repair the fountain that has suffered breakdowns and crumbling for years dating to well before last year’s CHOP and summer of protests. A parks department representative said part of the work is to determine exactly what is causing the degradation and said that water repellent and anti-graffiti coatings will also be applied.

CHS reported on one lengthy dry period for the water feature in 2011 as repairs were held up on a wait for special German-made pump parts for the Doug Hollis-designed fountain.

The fountain is, in a way, a celebration of what lies beneath Cal Anderson and the creation of the neighborhood’s central park — two 6.25 million-gallon vaults full of clear, cool, Seattle Public Utilities drinking water. There has been a reservoir at the site for 115 years. Its above ground days were only partly charming. “The four-acre open reservoir with its fountain jet occupied the northern half of the park, but its soothing presence was surrounded by chain link fencing with barbed wire along the top,” Historylink records. After the state mandated that Seattle’s open water sources needed to be covered in the early 1990s, Kay Rood and community groups helped lead an effort to cap the reservoir with a park.

The Volunteer Park Reservoir, meanwhile, remains open but ringed by fence and barbed wire. The most recent study recommended the auxiliary system be maintained as an emergency source of drinking water in the event of catastrophe.

The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture has contracted with JMS Masonry for the Cal Anderson fountain job. Repair work could extend into the summer, the city says.

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