The Quad, an area of campus extending from the bell tower down through the amphitheater, is one of the most picturesque areas of Western Carolina University’s Cullowhee campus. The highlight of The Quad is the Cata-fount, the waterspout that frequently blasts water upwards of 15 feet in the air.
The fountain was officially opened in April of this year, with a flash mob ringing in this new part of campus in style. However, the fountain has been a hot spot for mischief, as it has repeatedly been soaped with laundry detergent to make it bubble, and most recently was dyed a deep shade of purple.
The fountain has grates over the top of it, which makes it very easy for pranksters to slyly add substances to the water that is cycling through the fountain machinery. Since its opening, pranksters have taken great delight in adding substances to the fountain, which has given both WCU police and the maintenance department headaches.
When the fountain is tampered with, maintenance has to drain the fountain. However, the fountain usually drains into storm water, which empties into Cullowhee Creek. The water that has been tampered with cannot be drained the normal way due to environmental standards, so maintenance gets pumps to pump the contaminated water into a sewer drain. The entire process of pumping the water into the sewer takes about four hours.
Western Carolina police filed a report about the purple dye incident, but the report is wanting for details. The police are considering it a prank and not a crime, and there are no suspects at this time. A Sergeant on the police force said it was obviously a prank, and the police informed maintenance about the issue.
The water was a deep shade of purple, and the color change could be seen from the live camera feeds on the wcu.edu website.
To pranksters hoping to execute a harmless prank involving the Cata-fount, be aware that Campus Police and the maintenance department to not take such incidents lightly. The clean up for such a prank is about four hours, time that could be used in other areas more urgent than the geyser in The Quad.
So think twice about dumping Tide or food coloring in the Cata-fount, just leave it be as one of the more beautiful attractions on WCU’s campus.