Did You Know: The Fountain Hills Namesake Is Among The World's Largest

April 18, 2014

(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Fountain Hills namesake sprays more than 100,000 gallons of water each time it runs.

It’s the biggest attraction in the area and not something you would expect to find in the middle of the Arizona desert.

The fountain is a tourist attraction for the town of Fountain Hills. It’s been running thousands of gallons daily since the town was founded in 1970. Did You Know…The fountain is said to be the third largest man-made fountain in the world?

“We use to be the tallest recognized by Guinness as the world’s tallest fountain," said Mark Mayer, the town's director of community services.

"There are now, that we know of, two more that have been built. One is in St. Louis and that operates on an annual basis but does not operate over the winter. And then a second one that was recently built in Dubai and they operate on salt water," Mayer said.  "So, we no longer call ourselves the world’s tallest fountain. We call ourselves the world’s tallest continuously running fresh water fountain.”

The fountain was part of a community master project. C.V. Wood Jr., the same man who developed Disneyland, came up with the idea of putting a fountain in the middle of the town. It sits in the center of a man-made lake on a 64-acre park. The concrete base sculpture was built in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s about seven feet in length and weighs about a ton — literally. The fountain is driven by three pumps that propel thousands of gallons of water that climb to different levels. It normally pushes water to 330 feet – higher than the Statue of Liberty. And on a special occasion its runs at its maximum height of 560 feet.

“We maintain the pumps and everything that drive the fountain. It takes three 600 horse motors and we spend annually between $140,000 to $150,000 a year to run the fountain. That doesn’t include the maintenance that we also do at the fountain. It’s just the electrical charges,” Mayer said.

The fountain runs at the top of the hour for 15 minutes between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. It sprays more than 100,000 gallons of water each time. Mayer said the lake and fountain water are reclaimed wastewater.

"It’s called class-A. It’s the highest and cleanest level that you can get. We use it not only to service the fountain but to also irrigate almost 35 acres of turf with it as well,” he said.

The fountain also uses one other resource to maintain it. Koi fish linger at the bottom. They were put in here to help control midge flies — those harmless humming swarms often found around water.