Boat owner makes Jet d'eau a big turn-off

The Jet d'eau is synonymous with Geneva. Schweiz Tourismus

An irate boat owner is depriving Geneva of one of its most famous symbols, the Jet d'eau or "water jet".

This content was published on August 18, 2002 - 16:10

The 140-metre fountain is described by the public utility that operates it - SIG - as "a gigantic and world famous exclamation mark".

The 140-metre-high fountain dominates Geneva's harbour area and is described by the public utility that operates it - the SIG - as "a gigantic and world-famous exclamation mark".

Built originally in the late 19th century as a safety valve for a hydroelectric plant, this inescapable icon of the city appears on virtually every piece of tourist literature and postcard.

The fountain operates from March to October, although it is switched off when there are high winds.

But now there is another reason why this liquid asset is being turned off.

The supervisors who keep an eye on the jet - all of whom are retired - have reportedly been routinely threatened and insulted by a local boat owner.

He is furious that spray from the jet is falling on his magnificent double-masted yacht, which is moored virtually at the foot of the Jet d'eau.

Moor elsewhere

SIG officials say the attendants feel constantly intimidated by the man's protests.

To keep the peace, they often agree to turn off the fountain between 5pm and 9 pm, to the puzzlement of the thousands of tourists and locals strolling around the harbour front.

The SIG says the only solution to the problem would be if the man agreed to moor his 11-metre boat in another place. However, the boat owner has so far refused to play ball.

"He was offered a mooring further away, but he didn't want it," says Charles Drapel, who is in charge of operations at the Jet d'eau.

"He should realise that the Jet d'eau was there before he was," he adds.

The authorities are loath to take legal action since the boat owner has not committed any offence.

In addition the law is not clear as to whether the SIG, the canton or the city authorities has jurisdiction over the landmark.

by Roy Probert

Boat summary

A local boat owner is protesting against the famous Genevan landmark, the Jet'eau, because he is angry that spray from the water jet is falling on his yacht, moored nearby.

As a compromise, the fountain is often turned off between 5pm and 9pm.

The boat owner has refused an offer of another mooring further away and the authorities cannot take legal action because the man has not committed any offence.

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