Willy Water retiring after 45 years on Ninth & Pine Reservoir

Fountain has deteriorated, poses possible health risk

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, 509.625.6505

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 2:07 p.m.

Willy Water – along with his fountain on the top of the Ninth & Pine Reservoir – is retiring after 45 years of faithful service. The aging fountain, that includes the metal, 15-foot tall Willy Water cutout, will be removed as part of needed maintenance work and repainting of the tank.

The Water Department has determined that the fountain has deteriorated to the point that it no longer makes sense to maintain it. Additionally, the fountain poses a possible health risk because the fountain's recirculated water, which may contain contaminants, potentially could leak into drinking water. State rules regulating drinking water don't allow for such close proximity between drinking water and water that may contain contaminants.

A contract for the tank maintenance work is expected to be awarded soon, although work isn't expected until the fall when water demand is lower. The Water Department will attempt to have the Willy cutout removed as a single piece. It is unclear whether that's possible because the cutout is in poor condition and is integrated into the fountain structure.

The Ninth & Pine Reservoir, which was built in 1969, holds 7.2 million gallons of drinking water and serves the Valley floor within the City, including downtown. The fountain featuring Willy Water was installed as part of the construction of the water tank and was fabricated by Water Department employees.

The Willy Water character was created by the American Water Works Association in the 1940s as a national water mascot. His original name was “Willing Water.”