Redding asks for water conservation, runs fountains 15 hours a day

This summer, during Northern California's worst wildfire season in recorded history, the city of Redding has rightly asked that residents curtail their water use. Good call.

Tuesday the city alerted residents that a crucial water-for-firefighting need had eased but noted that California is officially in a drought year, and we should still be mindful of that in our water use. Also a good call.

Meanwhile the city's decorative water fountains gush merrily in front and back of City Hall and various street corners around town. Not a good call.

I asked City Hall what gives, and this was the (admirably speedy) response:

The group responsible for the maintenance and operation of our water features is “Parks Maintenance,” a division of my department. None of the features have a separate meter so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you precisely what the fountain water usage is, but I can tell you that it is minimal. Since the water is re-circulated, the only water loss is in evaporation as you noted. As a point of clarification, most of the fountains do not run around the clock. Normally they are scheduled to run only from 7:00 a.m. 10:00 p.m. If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me or call me at 225-4270.
Gerry Kersten
Director of Support Services
I know we enjoy an abundance of water. I know the fountains are a drop in the bucket of water wastage, given the lawns and pools and golf courses we indulge in. (I feel guilty for running a mister fan on my plants on 110-degree days.) And the pretty plumes of the Signature Fountain aren't exactly on the scale of the Vegas Bellagio.

But in a dangerous drought-and-wildfires summer, the very visible city center and seat of local government is sending an undeniably mixed message.


  1. Whole-heartedly agree. Many times it's not the actual net result (as in the only loss being that of evaporation), but the perception.

    Even if there is minimal loss through the city's fountains, the visual of the fountains disappearing during the time when residents are being asked to conserve would be a powerful one.

    Much more powerful than trying to explain how the fountains really aren't using up that much water.

  2. Great point. Sara and I have been laughing about that for years.

  3. Agree 100%. It'll be a lot easier to convince us to let our lawns go brown come early fall when we're out of snowmelt and Shasta Lake has shrunk to the size of a bathtub if the City shows us they believe it, too.
    Anyone out there remember the "Strawberry Shower" from the Str. Music Festival? Wet your hair, turn off the water. Shampoo everywhere, rinse quickly. Bam, done in 60 sec. flat.