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One of the first known jet fountains was the Great Fountain in Enville which was set in the middle of a lake on the estate of the Earl of Stanford, in Enville, Staffordshire, England. The fountain was described a on level with the surface of the lake, composed of five jets with one central jet that sent water over 150 feet high. The supply of the water came from two reservoirs high in the hill, allowing the jets to pump water for about five minutes until the reservoir was emptied. 

The Great fountain was the predecessors for other similar fountains, like the Jet d’Eau in Geneva and King Fahd’s Fountain in Saudi Arabia. These more modern fountains actually use mechanical pumps allowing the water to jet more than 312 feet into the air. It is unknown as to whether this fountains still in existence, or running today. But it is the clear inspiration for the fountains to be discussed next. 

The original Jet d’Eau was built in 1886. It was intended to be used as a safety valve for a hydraulic plant, and not as an artistic fountain. However, in 1951 the present fountain was installed, with a partially submerged pumping station, allowing this stream of water to reach 295 feet high. It was moved to the location where Lake Geneva empties into the Rhone River to celebrate the Federal Gymnastics Festival as well as the 600th anniversary of the Swill Confederation. In 2008, it became the logo for Geneva was hosting the 2008 UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Championships. 

Another famous jet fountain is the King Fahd’s Fountain, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This fountain is actually the tallest water fountain in the world. It was not built until the 1980’s, and the water has reached over 1000 feet high. The fountain was a donation from the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz. The present fountain has been in operation since 1985. There are comprehensive maintenance plans that include daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly checks and inspections to keep the fountain running correctly. 

The one difference with the Jeddah fountain, as opposed to the previous fountains, is that it uses salt water. This creates issues with corrosion and abrasion to the outdoor fountain. Therefore special intakes for the pumps were added and are treated annually. Anti-fouling paint was also used as this prevents the growth of marine life. The water is filtered through a series of screens which filters our soil, sand, and any organic matter. The piping is made of a special stainless steel. The fountain also features five hundred high intensity spotlights to illuminate the fountain, and these had to be specially made to withstand the constant torrent of thousands of tons of water slamming into them each hour. There was also a cathodic system added in 1987 to protect the pipes from the sea waters corrosive effects. So although the inspiration came from the freshwater fountains, a lot of work had to be done to make it work in the salt water. 

These jet fountains create an exciting and interesting visual effect. The sheer magnitude of the water is impressive in itself. They are certainly entertaining as well as awe inspiring water features!