If you see thousands of gallons of water running off the Detroit — Superior Bridge this week, don’t panic. It’s just Ingenuity’s dramatic new water feature.
Ethiopian —born Cleveland artist Kidist Getachew, working with Michael Lehto and John Thomas—conceived the waterfall as an extravagant display of Great Lakes water wealth, which starkly contrasts the situation in her homeland. It promises to make quite a splash, dumping 5,000 gallons of water per minute in a band 48 to 60 feet wide off the deck of the bridge 130 feet into the Cuyahoga River down below.
The project required approvals from the Coast Guard, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Cleveland Division of Water, Flats Oxbow, and the Cuyahoga County Engineer’s office—all of which finally came together at about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon—just one week before the festival’s opening this Friday.
“We are really interested in celebrating water wealth in stark contrast with so many other parts of the world,” Lehto said. “We hope that is a strong point for the city’s future when water is going to be a more precious commodity.”
The water will come from a 12” water main, which the division of water had planned to flush out anyway. Instead of running it into the gutter via fire hydrants, they’ll route it up the bridge, into a series of boxes that will serve as reservoirs, spilling off the side of the bridge in a wide cascade to the river.
That’s why the EPA had to get involved. City water has chlorine in it, and you can’t just dump that into the river.
“Its good enough for us to drink but not good enough to put back in the river,” Lehto said.
The artists hope the project will help raise money to support an Ethiopian village’s effort to drill a well. To find out how to help or learn more about the project, go to lifelinefromcleveland.org.
The Ingenuity Festival runs opens with a parade starting at Playhouse Square at 4 p.m. Friday and continues til 1 a.m. Saturday, then noon Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday, then noon to 5 p.m. Sunday on the Subway level of the Detroit Superior Bridge. Free. Go to Ingenuitycleveland.com for information. —Michael Gill
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