Larry's Electric Fountain Blog
Denver Parks and Recreation maintaining fountain
Denver Parks and Recreation personnel now have total responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Electric Fountain. This spring they did the startup without my help for the first time.
There are some issues with a few of the valves sticking due to the poor water quality in Ferril Lake. Those should be resolved during the month of June.
As noted elsewhere, call 311 to report problems with the fountain operation.
Summertime at the fountain
I haven't posted anything on this blog since last fall. Many things have happened since then.
The Facilities Maintenance division of Denver Parks and Recreation has taken over the full operation and support of the Electric Fountain this year. I am a consultant to them but if you see any problems with the fountain, call 311 to report it.
I have not been able to get support from management at Denver Parks and Recreation to complete the Wigwam water feature. This has been frustrating since several outside groups have offered to help. So for now we have 11 of the 12 original Darlington water features operational.
And I will be very glad when the construction of the Asian Tropics exhibit at the Denver Zoo is completed. We have had many power and other utility disruptions in City Park because of the construction, several of which have caused problems with the City Park irrigation system and the Electric Fountain.
We had some concerns about the thunderstorm that passed through the City Park area on Wednesday, July 6th because the lightning detection system did not shut down the fountain despite strikes that seemed near enough to be a potential threat. The algorithm in the PC that processes the raw lightning data from the weather station has been adjusted to be more sensitive.
As a result, you may see the fountain shut down more often because of lightning strikes in the area.
The end of the 2010 season draws near
The 2010 operating season for the Electric Fountain saw some great times and some frustrating times. As we approach the end of the 2010 season (last day of full operation is Sunday, October 17) I thought I'd make a new post here.
The new lightning detection system became operational at the beginning of the season and even though it was disappointing to some visitors to see the fountain shut down at times when there was nearby lightning, the system did protect the fountain from costly damage.
The County Fair and Open House, with the City Park Alliance and councilwoman Carla Madison was a grand success. There was a great turnout for the Denver Municipal Band concert and free ice cream.
We had lots of visitors stop by the Friends of the Electric Fountain booth to see the photos and old nozzle display.
The only problems experienced with the operation of the fountain this year were caused by collateral damage from the explosion of a transformer at the Xcel Energy substation which feeds City Park and construction of the Asian Tropics exhibit at the Denver Zoo.
Total power outages shut down the fountain pumps on several occasions and an extended partial power outage caused two relays and the air compressor motor to burn up.
But the Department of Parks and Recreation funded the repairs to the fountain and we got it running again after each problem was diagnosed and the parts were replaced.
I have high hopes that we can raise the money to build the final water feature (the Wigwam) during the winter and get it installed before the beginning of the 2011 season.
This would complete the reconstruction of the fountain and create another great water effect for the fountain shows. If you can help us (every dollar counts!) please go to our fund raising page and send a check to the address shown.
If it isn't one thing it's another.
Just when I thought we were going to get through the season without any further problems we had a failure with the air compressor. An internal short circuit has tripped the circuit breaker. The compressed air is what runs the valves that turn the various water features on and off.
Initial diagnosis indicates that the problem was caused by the partial power outages experienced at the park this summer. We should know more in the next few days.
In the mean time, we will continue to run the pumps and the lights with a static display of the middle spray ring and the center geyser.
Power outages and fountain operation
The continuing power problems at City Park have caused multiple problems for the continuous operation of the Electric Fountain. This has been frustrating to me since we lost a major portion of our season last year due to the lightning strike.
Between the contractor working on the expansion project at the zoo digging up the power lines for the park and the explosion and fire at the nearby Xcel Energy substation, the power has been on and off in the park numerous times in the past 45 days.
Each time the power goes out, the pump drives, air compressor and other equipment must be manually restarted. This is done for safety reasons; having equipment restart automatically on such a sophisticated system can create a dangerous situation
When I went to watch the fountain on Wednesday evening it was running but dark. The incandescent lights were operating but not the multi-color LED lights. I am not sure when the lights stopped working since I did not get any calls about the fountain not working at night.
The most recent outage early Monday morning resulted in having only partial power for a number of hours after the outage. As a result, the two relays that turn the power on and off for the LED fountain lights were damaged.
I replaced the failed relays this morning (Thursday) and everything should be back to normal for the night time fountain shows. Fortunately, the replacement relays were fairly inexpensive and easily replaced.
The Electric Fountain is running for the season!!!
It was a busy week with several incredibly long days but the Electric Fountain was turned on for the season on Friday afternoon, May 28th. The LED lights have been repaired and the lightning detection system is operational.
A few of the valves still need to be adjusted and some new fountain shows will be written to show off new lighting effects for the Peacock and Ribbons.
Hope to see everyone on Monday, May 31st and again on June 4th for the Country Fair.
The countdown begins
As the electricians complete the replacement of the LED fixtures damaged by the lightning strike, we begin the spring start-up procedures for the fountain.
As you can imagine, there are lots of things to check and the water lines and nozzles all need to be flushed with fresh water. All equipment is tested and routine maintenance is performed to ensure that no problems develop during the summer season.
The final work on the lightning detection system is underway and we hope to have it all tested and running in time for the start of the season. The installation of this system will lead to some potential disappointments if an approaching storm generates enough nearby lightning strikes to shut down the fountain even though it is not raining close by.
Welcome to the Blog
One visitor told me that her family couldn't afford to go to the movies during the Great Depression so they would pack a picnic dinner and go to the park to hear the band play and watch the fountain perform.
Times have changed a lot since then but the one of the most rewarding things for me is to watch families coming back to City Park at night to walk around the lake and watch the fountain. And it isn't just the older people who remember the 1908 fountain. I've delighted to see many groups of people in their late teens and early 20s taking a break from texting or their iPhones for a few minutes to watch the fountain.
I'm looking forward to an exciting new season for the fountain this year and plan some great new fountain shows that will jazz things up a bit more. This was in the works for last year but the lightning strike cut the 2009 fountain season woefully short.
Some of the water features and lights that were added at the end of 2008, after the main season was over, have still not been fully integrated into the fountain shows seen by the public. The Peacock fan and the Ribbon have lighting that was not part of the original fountain.
Join us over the Memorial Day weekend to see what's new! And if you see a tall bearded guy wearing a baseball cap and pondering the fountain show with great intensity, come say "Hi" to me!