How to use the Phantom Water Pump

Question: What is a Phantom Water Pump?

Answer: It's a single water-pump that supplies enough water to water your entire city. If you look in the graph window, you should see your water level at 100% at all times.

Question: How do I get a Phantom Water Pump?

Answer: Place one water-pump that is:

  1. Not next to any buildings. Make sure that no buildings will be built next to it by creating a de-zoned area 3x3 tiles in size. Place the pump in the center tile.
  2. Not connected by any underground water-pipes.
  3. powered

See an example of a Phantom Water Pump from Jerry Moore's city MoleVille.

Controversy: Some believe in the Phantom Water Pump and some don't. Some believe that just because the graph window shows 100% water doesn't mean your city is 100% watered. They believe the graph doesn't show how much your city is watered, it shows how much water is not being used. If you have a single water pump not connected by any pipes, then 100% of it's water is not being used.

Phantom vs Watered: A watered-tile is nearly double the value of a dry tile. That's the only difference. Now the question you have to ask yourself is "does land-value really matter?" Should you waste valuable land to build water-pumps or use that land instead to build other things?

Jerry Moore ( wrote: Over the weekend I ran some additional tests on the SC2K water model. I "pre-zoned" a city 64 tiles wide by 64 tiles high and pre-placed all the essential services. The zoning was roughly 50% residential, 30% commercial and 20% industrial. The first scenario was with no water pumps or pipes. I then let the city run for 20 years, placed it on pause and measured all the essential values. I ran a 2nd scenario for the same time period with the phantom water pump, a 3rd scenario with 1 tile pumps surrounded by water outside of this 64 x 64 tile grid and a 4th scenario with 1 tile water surrounded by pumps. In all 4 scenarios, population growth and annual tax revenue generated was essentially the same, with the only variable showing any significant change being land value. The phantom pump and no pump produced the lowest land values, water surrounded by pumps was next and pumps surrounded by water was highest. I initially ran these tests on the DOS version 1.01 software. Subsequent tests on DOS version 1.0, version 1.1 and Windows produced very similar results. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that water has no impact on population growth or revenue and that using available building space for more zones instead of pumps allows for larger populations.

Michael Weburg ( wrote: I concluded much the same. I did notice that the phantom pump is no different than no pump at all, because it's not connected to the water grid. All the phantom pump does is show the water % in the graph as 100. This is because the water model shows this data as the amount of water NOT being used. If it says 100, then 100% of the pumps' water is not being used. If it goes to 80, then 80% of the pumps' output is not being used. When it hits 0, then none of it is being unused; all of it is eaten up by the grid.

Secondly, as you mention, value seems to be the only affected variable. On average, value increases by up to 70% if a tile or city is fully-watered. So, if you plug in a water system to a dry city with a value of 60, you'll end up with a city value of about 102. Unfortunatly, city value seems to have little effect on growth, density, or revenue. I'd say it's a flaw in the design, although it doesn't really hurt the game any.

See also Michael Weburg's Strategy Handguide

If you have any new information regarding Phantom Water Pumps, please e-mail ClubOpolis.
This Web Page was created by Patrick Coston July 16, 1995, Last updated April 4, 2006