Willy Water has left the building.
For 45 years, the 15-foot tall Willy held up a concrete glass of water, cheering the surrounding area just east of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
But after the state Health Department told the city that he could no longer stand upon the 7.2 million gallons of drinking water inside the Ninth Avenue and Pine Street reservoir due to health regulations, Spokane’s Water Department had no choice but to remove him.
“He came down pretty much intact,” said Marlene Feist, spokeswoman for the city utilities department, in an email. “Crews removed the hands and feet to get him down.”
Willy’s removal comes as part of a maintenance project for the reservoir, including repainting the large, circular building. When the reservoir was constructed in 1969, city work crews built the statue and affixed it to the building’s rooftop fountain. Since the fountain used recirculated water, it was deemed to be potentially hazardous for the water inside the tank.
Willy Water, who also goes by Willie or Willing Water, is a character developed by the American Water Works Association in the 1940s as a national water mascot.
Now, the same organization is considering shipping Spokane’s statue to its Denver headquarters for display.
“We love that guy. You can find him in literature and statues and all kinds of tchotchke,” said Greg Kail, a spokesman with AWWA. “The size and prominence of that particular statue was unusual. We’d like to find a good home for him if it’s possible.”
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