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The town will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fountain in December 2020 and Town and Sanitary District officials are beginning to look toward the future and what it might take to keep the Fountain spouting for another half century.

At a joint session of the Town Council and the District Board of Directors on Oct. 9, there was a discussion regarding what might be needed to rejuvenate the aging community icon.

Central to the conversation was talk about the liner for the lake and the possible need to replace it. This is an expensive proposition, but the existing liner was installed in 2000 with a 20-year warranty. Town Manager Grady Miller anticipates a cushion of three to five years in which to replace the liner before potential problems may crop up.

Replacing the liner itself is a relatively simple proposition. The process of getting there, however, is exceptionally complex and requires a lot of coordination.

The lake contains 100 million gallons of water that must be removed to begin the process. Since the water is treated effluent, it is not a matter of simply letting it run down the wash.

Sanitary District Chairman Gregg Dudash said there is a need to deal with the waste water within the town and he laid out options he believes to be feasible, although there may be legal and regulatory hurdles with those.

Dudash suggested using the State Trust Land, McDowell Mountain Park or working with the City of Scottsdale. It is likely in either of the first two options the water would still need to be contained.

“All of these would require permission,” Dudash said. “And there are costs involved.”

Also, evaporation and irrigation are part of the equation, but would only use a portion of the water that must be removed. The process is likely to take months.

While the lake is drained – and don’t forget to remove any fish first – the sediment must be removed and old liner removed. The sediment is a challenge all on its own. It would likely need to be hauled to a specialty landfill for disposal and allowed to dry as much as possible to reduce the cost for hauling weight.

During the drying process, and this is based on experience from the first replacement, there may need to be some treatment to prevent flies.

During the period for drying, installation of the new liner and refill, there would be no waste water available for irrigation of parks and the golf courses that use the effluent.

Miller said staff is recommending against a test on the liner material. He said it is cost prohibitive, about $15,000, and could cause unwarranted damage to the liner.

Instead, staff is proposing the replacement decision be made based largely on the age of the material and the warranty.

The liner work aside, the town is also looking at separate projects related to the Fountain and lake. One would be the installation of irrigation storage separate from the lake. This would allow for a better quality irrigation water to improve turf conditions in the park.

Another project calls for the upgrade of pumps and the electrical control equipment associated with them. New technology could have a huge impact in the efficiency and cost of operating the Fountain, according to Miller.

The cost of all this work is not currently known. Miller said there will need to be some assessment done along with a careful evaluation of the process. He said staff would like to have all of this work rolled into a single bond package for voters to consider as financing. There is no specified timetable at this time for voter consideration, Miller said, although he believes the project is something to think about as the anniversary celebration approaches next year.