The World Tallest Fountain

World Tallest FountainAlthough not the tallest fountain in the world anymore, it is currently in the top five. The Fountain operates for 15 minutes at the top of each hour from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. World Tallest Fountain is normally operated with two of three pumps reaching 330 feet high and can be seen for miles around Fountain Hills. On special occasions it is run with all three pumps operating and reaches a lofty height of 560 feet, higher than the Washington Monument!

The Fountain was built in 1970, first operating on December 15th of that year. For more than a decade after its debut, it was the world’s tallest fountain. Its three pumps are driven by three electric motors that each delivers 600 horsepower. All three pumps operating at once require over 1.3 million watts of electrical power. This is equivalent to almost 300 house air conditioners running at once! Normally only two pumps are run which still requires almost 900,000 watts. To put this into perspective, if electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt hour, it would cost $90.00 to run the Fountain for one hour!  

The water is supplied by 30-acre Fountain Lake. The water is extracted from the lake to the pump house on the south side of the lake, where it is pressurized by the electric-motor driven pumps and delivered by pipe to the fountain head in the middle of the lake. This is a large concrete structure resembling a stylized water-lily. Within this structure is a specially designed nozzle that forces the water into a hollow stream six inches in diameter. The purpose of this is to cause the water to disperse into a more graceful plume at the top.

When the Fountain operates at night, lights illuminate the plume from top to bottom. There are lights installed on the concrete fountain head that not only light the structure itself but also shine up on the rapidly ascending stream of water. Two banks of lights on the shore of Fountain Lake light up the plume of water as it widens at the top.

The fountain percolates hourly, and having drawn up my itinerary with exquisite accuracy, I arrived at T-minus fifteen minutes. I had just enough time to select a vantage point and break out the photo equipment. I assumed the large, concrete structure in the middle of the reservoir marked the spot, although it didn't look all that big. I imagined myself rowing a small boat out to greet it, though, and as I saw my craft receding further out onto the lake, I realized that the fountain really is larger than it appears.

In 2001, my story on the Fountain Hills Fountain resulted in my first published photo. Read all about it. Fountain Park Lake is a 28-acre lake in the center of the 32-acre Fountain Park, which is itself located in Fountain Hills, a desert oasis for the financially gifted — the kind of place where the public restrooms at the park are nicer than the one I have at home. As pretty as it is, though, you must keep in mind that the lake is composed of 100,623,600 gallons of "chemically treated, recycled wastewater." In other words, no swimming. The geese, however, don't seem to mind. Of course, geese are nasty.

The World Tallest Fountain

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