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How to deal with strenuous suds in the fountain

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From time to time, the gateway water feature at the west end of downtown Sandy gushes with bubbles, thanks to some well-placed soap put there by pranksters.

The fountain gushes with bubbles for a few hours until city workers shut it down and remove the suds. But our question is: How does the city clean the fountain after it has been attacked with soap?

For this answer, we ask the man who does the cleaning - Sandy Parks Superintendent Joe Preston.

He said the fountain typically gets hit between two and four times a year, mostly around graduation time and homecoming.

The fountain doesn't have any drainage systems, so when it's full of soap, Preston has to pump out the water, draining the soapy liquid into the street.

'There's so much soap in (the water) that when people drive by, it agitates the bubbles,' Preston said. 'So we'll have soap action going on right in the highway.'

In many cases, Preston has to pump out all the water - an hour-long process - refill the water feature by hose, pump it out again (another hour) and refill the fountain. The process occupies a large chunk of his workday.

'And that's if it wasn't too bad,' he said, noting that the most severe case caused him to have to fill and refill four times over two days, and even then, there was still some soapy residue for a while.

'Everyone says, 'Well, dump some hot tub defoamer in there.' But when people put that much in there, it just doesn't work; you have to get the water out,' he remarked.

Preston said the last incident of a bubble attack was about three months ago, and he notes that he doesn't have to clean the fountain as much as he used to, thanks to the city's recently passed 'bubble bill' - which makes tampering with the fountain a municipal crime.

'I think word has gotten out,' Preston said. 'People aren't soaping it as much as they have before.'