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Why Do Some Water Fountains Run Nonstop In Chicago?

By Kelly Bauer | April 26, 2017 5:51am
 Some of the city's water fountains are being turned on as the weather warms up.
Some of the city's water fountains are being turned on as the weather warms up.
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Courtesy Shanna Shrum

DOWNTOWN — The city's water fountains are in the process of being turned on for the season.

The Chicago Park District is manually turning on all the fountains, and it expects to have them all going by May 15, spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.

Shanna Shrum, of Edgewater, noticed some fountains on near the 606 and Lakefront Trail while running over the weekend — with some spitting out water even when no one was using them. Others were still turned off.

One fountain on the 606 was running so strongly its water was going into the ground instead of the fountain's bowl, Shrum said.

"They don't typically run automatically and excessively like that," Shrum said.

Some fountains are allowed to run "for an extended period" because it helps with water quality and taste, Maxey-Faulkner said.

"After an extensive review of our infrastructure, the Chicago Park District determined that some fountains are best served, in terms of water quality and taste, by allowing the water to run for an extended period starting at the beginning of the season."

Shrum called 311 to alert the city about the running fountains, but the woman she spoke to didn't see the problem because — as Shrum said she was told — water is a natural resource. A supervisor was looking into the fountains, Shrum said.

“It was pretty typical Chicago,” Shrum said, laughing.