Finlay Park’s fountain falls dry, awaiting repairs

cleblanc@thestate.comApril 16, 2014 

— The waterfall and the 27-foot-tall, circular fountain in downtown’s Finlay Park, broken and turned off for two weeks, might be flowing again in about another week, Columbia’s parks director said, with fingers crossed for luck.

A West Columbia company, Electric Motor and Repair Inc., is evaluating the damaged pump and motor assembly that pushes water through pipes that feed the waterfall and fountain, Columbia parks director Jeff Caton said.

The company said it can fix the assembly and return it to the city in seven to 10 days, Caton said.

Electric Motor and Repair had not provided the city a repair price as of Wednesday, but Caton said he expects the price tag to be considerably cheaper than buying a new assembly.

“Hopefully, they’ll have it back to us by the end of next week,” Caton said. “I’d like to have it running again by the weekend (of April 27).

“We recognize that this is kind of an iconic thing for Columbia,” he said. “We’re moving as fast as we can.”

The dual water features that normally cascade 2,400 gallons per minute stopped on April 4 because the spinning shaft that drives the water failed, Caton said. The shaft had been wobbling because bearings in the pump were wearing out.

The $1 million, 23-year-old waterfall and fountain are designed to operate from two, alternating assemblies. One assembly quit working about two years ago, so the falls and fountain have been running on the remaining pump and motor, he said.

When the shaft could no longer spin, water flooded into and shorted out an underground vault that houses the assembly near a 1½-acre pond. The pond is the water source for the falls and fountain, he said.

City workers had to drain the pond about halfway to get to the vault and remove it for repairs.

At first, the city sought replacement estimates from five companies, Caton said. But city workers learned of the West Columbia company, which provided an option of repair, Caton said.

If Electric and Motor Repair does a good job with one assembly, the city may hire it to fix the second, he said.

 

Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.

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