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Willy Water fountain’s deterioration poses threat at reservoir

Thu., March 20, 2014

It’s time for Willy Water to retire.

For the past 45 years he’s been standing proudly in the middle of a fountain on top of the drinking water reservoir at Ninth Avenue and Pine Court just east of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Willy is made out of concrete and metal and was built by Water Department staff, back when the reservoir was new in 1969.

Willy was made to look like the American Water Works Association’s mascot Willing Water, aka Willie Water.

Marlene Feist, utilities communications manager, said the Spokane figure was always known as Willy but designed to look like Willing Water.

Willy’s fountain has deteriorated so badly that it may be a health risk if it leaks into the 7.2 million gallons of drinking water that’s retained in the Ninth and Pine reservoir.

State regulations don’t allow this close proximity between water that could be contaminated and drinking water, Feist wrote in a press release.

She added that workers will try to remove Willy in one piece.

“It’s unclear if that’s possible because the cutout is in poor condition and is integrated into the fountain structure,” Feist wrote.

At about 15 feet tall, Willy has a raindrop-shaped head and holds a concrete glass of water in one hand.

Lights on top of the reservoir could illuminate him, but they haven’t been used in years, Feist added.

Work to repair and repaint the reservoir is expected to begin in the fall.

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