SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City is asking the community to give feedback on two potential options for the future of the Seven Canyons Fountain in Liberty Park, which was drained in 2017 due to health and safety concerns.
The Seven Canyons Fountain is an interactive art structure which was donated to the residents of Salt Lake City in 1993 as a legacy gift from Mr. O.C. Tanner. It has served as one of the most well-known features of Liberty Park in Salt Lake City for nearly 30 years.
Officials say the fountain was designed to portray the seven canyons of the Salt Lake Valley, as well as the respective rivers and streams that make up the valley’s watershed.
In 2017, officials say Salt Lake City leadership made the difficult decision to turn the water off at the fountain.
An April 2017 citation issued by the Salt Lake County Department of Health, combined with other concerning maintenance issues at the fountain, made it clear that it was in the public’s best interest to shut off the water, according to officials.
The Salt Lake City Council reportedly approved funding in 2019 to restore the fountain and resolve compliance issues with Salt Lake County Health Department Codes.
A study into the issue found several potential options for restoring the fountain.
The city determined that restoring the fountain as an interactive feature with recirculating water was not a viable option.
They say the reasons for the decision include:
- Doing so will cost more than double the current project budget.
- In order to update the fountain to meet Salt Lake County Health Department regulations for interactive, recirculating water features, the original artwork would have to be significantly altered, rendering the artwork largely unrecognizable to the detriment of the artists’ vision and integrity of the aesthetics.
- The city’s commitment to water conservation makes it hard to justify the lower-cost option of converting the fountain to a flow-through system, which would have less impact on the artwork but would use millions more gallons of water per year. Recently, low snowpack and stream flows prompted Mayor Mendenhall to issue a Stage 1 Advisory of the city’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan.
After considering each option proposed in the study, as well as Salt Lake City’s commitment to water conservation, city leaders say they have prioritized two potential options on which to request community feedback:
- Refurbish the artwork and permanently convert it into a dry, interactive art feature.
- Decommission the artwork and pursue funding to replace the artwork with something different. The second option will require separate funding to be requested because the current project funds are not approved for creating new artwork, according to city officials.
“Closing the fountain saddened us all. We feel these are the best options in terms of fiscal and environmental responsibility,” says Kristin Riker, director of Salt Lake City public lands.