Winter Ready: Caring For The Greenway’s Fountains in the Cooler Months
The fountains along The Greenway are some of the most beloved parts of the park. Whether you’re splashing your way through the Rings Fountain or enjoying views in our North End park, they bring a level of ambiance to the space.
The fountains shut off for the year on the second Tuesday in October until Memorial Day weekend – but what goes into making sure that they are safely cared for during the colder months?
One of the major elements of shutting off the fountains is making sure that all of the water is drained out of the pipes, and that the reservoirs are also completely drained of water.
In the North End, where there are jets of water coming out of the pavement, we blow out the water with a compressor and fill any underground pipes with non-toxic antifreeze. In the Rings Fountain, in addition to draining the water reservoir under the fountain, we blow out the water from the fog system with a compressor. The same winterization takes place at the Harbor Fog installation near Rowes Wharf..
During the winter months, we take the time to examine the nozzles responsible for creating the “fog” at both Rings Fountain and Harbor Fog. All 150 nozzles are removed and assessed for wear or damage. New nozzles are ordered for any that cannot be repaired.
The subterranean fountain equipment rooms or “vaults” include sump pumps to pump out water during the winter months. Water from snow and rain goes into the reservoir, and eventually goes through to a sump pump that helps get rid of any excess moisture to ensure there’s no damage to the equipment. We check on the sump pumps throughout the winter to make sure that they’re running properly and keeping the fountains in top shape.
Into the Vault
Did you know that there are vaults for the fountains? They hold the systems that keep them running, helping us monitor them when they’re running and keeping everything safe when they’re not.
The vaults contain water treatment equipment that adds chlorine to the water on an as-needed basis, an electronic controller that monitors everything – including the more complicated elements in Rings Fountain like fog and timing – dehumidifiers, heaters, and an air conditioner in Rings Fountain. There’s also an alarm system that sends text messages to our maintenance team if anything is awry.
Throughout the winter, our maintenance team goes into the vaults 1-2 times per week to check on all these parts. They also keep an eye on the heating, insulation, and sump pumps to make sure nothing is amiss.
Prepping For Spring
Before it’s time to turn the fountains on again for spring, there’s a few things that need to be done.
First, there are our sand filters in the vaults. These are vessels with glass beads (formally sand) that are pumped through and filter out organic debris. We drain these before we turn the fountains on to keep them running smoothly.
We also service specific parts of the fountains, specifically the Rings Fountain. We need to service the pump that makes the fog, as well as the compressor. This ensures the parts are in their best shape before they’re ready to go for the season.
The fountains may be off for the cooler months, but that doesn’t mean there’s not lots of work going on to make sure they’re ready to go in the spring. A big shout out to our Maintenance crew who keep everything in working order and ensure the fountains can provide a perfect place to stop and relax along The Greenway!