The water fountains on the Capitol Square, installed less than four years ago, have suffered a series of catastrophic breakdowns.
In early spring, as part of routine maintenance work, it was discovered that the dual fountains at the entrances of East and West Washington Avenues had "electrical systems failures," says Laura Whitmore, spokesperson for the Madison Parks Division.
After these were repaired, says Whitmore, it emerged that the fountains' mechanical systems were on the blink. Then there were problems with the plumbing. City crews tried to get the fountains working, for the first time this year, by the July 4 weekend. But as of this Wednesday, two of the four were still dry.
"Fountains are high maintenance, but these units have proved most difficult. I think everyone involved is frustrated," says city engineer Larry Nelson. "Engineering will be working with Parks with a goal to make them more reliable." And from now on, annual maintenance for spring will begin in the fall.
According to a 2005 article (by Jay Rath) in the Wisconsin State Journal, the city spent $810,275 on new fountains and planters, in part because the old fountains, said one city official, "required a high degree of maintenance." At least they worked.