A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lake Merritt's fountains need our help

Lake Merritt lovers may have noticed that all the fountains have been turned off.
Four of the motors have failed and are out of warranty. A replacement motor is broken.
Three of the four fountains are owned by the Lake Merritt Institute, which is struggling
to come up with the $7,000 it needs to replace the motors. Let's help!

Please send donations, whether they are large or small, to the Lake Merritt
Institute, 568 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. The institute is a non-
profit, 501C3 corporation, so donations are deductible to the extent
of the law.

Below is an excerpt of a letter that the Institute's Dr. Richard Bailey sent to the Adams Point Action Council, which is spearheading this fund drive.

"Cheers: That is great! We could certainly use this kind of help. To
answer your questions:

"Funds for the aeration fountains should be sent to: The Lake Merritt
Institute, 568 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. We are a non-
profit, 501C3 corporation, so donations are deductible to the extent
of the law.

"Functions: Each fountain aerates (provides oxygen) to at least one
acre of water around it. They also mix the top and bottom layers of
water, and - to most people - are aesthetically pleasing.
These aeration fountains are important to the Lake because all life
depends on ample oxygen. As you may know, in 1998 the US EPA listed

Lake Merritt as an impaired body of water due to low oxygen.
The fountains provide oxygen in areas of the lake where it is needed the most.

"Why they failed: Essentially the motors are several years old and
four of them have failed since July. At Glen Echo, the mechanical
seal failed; at the Embarcadero, the bearing is bad and the bottom
cap has rusted off; at the Bandstand, the motor has a short circuit.
Our spare motor has a locked armature. The warranties (typically 2
years) on all four have expired. Capacitors, circuit breakers,
splices, and underwater cables also fail from time to time.
Failure is typically related to salt water corrosion, electrolysis,
the fact that they run 24/7 and the growths of barnacles, mussels,
bryozoans, tubeworms and sea squirts that clog the intake screens,
motor tubes and everything else.

"Replacement costs for all four total to more than $7,000. We have
some funds promised but not enough. Shipping, packing and labor
costs for installation and maintenance are also expensive.
We expect to get the Embarcadero unit back on line next week, but the
others will take longer.

"The city owns one of the fountains and we will be using some city
money. But the other three are owned by the Institute, which does
the maintenance on all four. The city pays the electricity costs.

Dr. Bailey at Lake Merritt Institute

photo courtesy of The Young Ryan G

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