Five Rivers Fountain of Lights

See one of the world's largest fountains in action at RiverScape MetroPark

RiverScape Fountain of Lights

A focal point of RiverScape MetroPark is the Five Rivers Fountain of Lights, a series of five fountains that shoot water about 200 feet high and 400 feet across at the confluence of the Great Miami and Mad Rivers. These fountains have been part of the city skyline, and hundreds of photos of downtown Dayton, since 2001, when the park opened. The five streams of water, symbolizing our five regional rivers, meet in a giant center spray honoring our region’s fortunate abundance of water within the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, one of the nation’s most plentiful aquifers and the source of the fountain’s water. This dramatic in-river feature is unique because of its innovative technology and artistic design. Sixty-foot stainless steel and aluminum spires adorn the tops of the fountain towers. These sculptural pieces of architecture reflect sunlight and create beautiful moray patterns. When night rolls in, the fountain spires are covered with 25 “intelligent” lights that can create almost every color imaginable.

How the Fountains Work

The Five Rivers Fountain of Lights is created by five water jets housed in concrete towers and a powerful center geyser. The towers straddle the confluence of the Great Miami and Mad Rivers just east of the Riverside Bridge and shoot 2,500 gallons of water per minute toward the center of the river. The central geyser rises from the jets to an impressive 200 feet in the air. Covering 395,000 square feet across an 800-foot diameter, the Five Rivers Fountain of Lights is one of the largest fountains in the world.

Harnessing such an awesome fountain requires a few tricks, as well. The Five Rivers Fountain of Lights is equipped with directional wind sensors. If the wind is blowing in a direction and at a velocity that could interfere with area traffic or other activities, individual jets of the fountain will not operate. Also, during the cold months when water could create hazardous conditions on nearby roads and recreation trails, the fountain is turned off.

Water for the Fountains

Water to the fountain is provided by seven wells that tap the aquifer. Prior to building the fountain, the RiverScape partnership asked for opinions from the City of Dayton, the Miami Conservancy District and the Ohio EPA regarding the potential effect of the fountain. All three organizations agreed that the fountain will not harm the aquifer. In fact, groundwater in the area is so plentiful that many downtown buildings continuously operate dewatering pumps to prevent groundwater from entering their basements. These pumps discharge more water into the rivers daily than is used by the Five Rivers Fountain in the same period.

To ensure that the fountains will never negatively affect the aquifer or the community water systems in the region, ongoing groundwater level and quality monitoring are conducted by The Miami Conservancy District’s Groundwater Preservation Program. Observation wells have been installed at each tower to record monthly water level readings. These readings are compared to historical monitoring data to ensure the health of the water, both in terms of the environment and the area’s water supply.

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