A Wednesday afternoon press release from the city announced that the iconic fountain in downtown Evanston’s Fountain Square will have to remain off for the rest of the calendar year due to an issue with water loss from the fountain pipes.
City staff initially turned the fountain off in spring 2021, almost a year ago, after employees noticed that “it was unable to retain water,” according to Wednesday’s announcement.
Evanston hired multiple engineering firms to assess the issue with water retention and determine the best path forward for fixing the fountain. Those conversations and studies with the city’s engineering consultants ultimately found that the original fountain contractor that the city hired, Copenhaver Construction, Inc., “installed incorrectly sized waterstops inside the fountain and did not follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation, causing water loss of up to 4,536 gallons per day.”
As a result, the city is now demanding $5 million in damages from Copenhaver. City staff did not budget for the fountain repairs in 2022, so the fountain will remain off for the rest of this year before being fixed in 2023.
“The City and Christopher B. Burke Engineering have determined that extensive repairs are needed to fix the issue, including removal and replacement of granite pavers, existing mechanical systems, electrical systems, and concrete substructure,” the press release said.
According to the announcement, the city will set aside funds for the repairs in its 2023 budget, while simultaneously seeking reimbursements from Copenhaver.
Although the fountain will have to stay off this season, Fountain Square will remain open for public events, gatherings and activities throughout spring and summer 2022.
The city originally constructed the fountain in 1876 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but a war memorial replaced it in 1946. The new fountain that now needs repair was built as part of a Fountain Square renovation in 2018.
Copenhaver did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the RoundTable.