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Re "Wood Chips Spontaneously Combust" (in the Sept. issue and at in which the Arlington, Texas fire marshal said wood chip surfacing at a school playground here spontaneous combusted. Arlington playgrounds with wood chips will be replaced with pea gravel.

Gary Max wrote:

While pea gravel makes a fairly good impact attenuating playground safety surfacing, it clearly is not wheelchair accessible and will not meet the ADA requirements for accessibility, as set forth in the ASTM F-1951 accessibility standard.

As a NPSI Playground Safety Inspector with 22 years experience it is disappointing seeing one media firestorm throwing us back into the dark ages of playground safety.

Engineered wood fiber has been proven to be the preferred surfacing system throughout North America for its safety, accessibility, durability, low maintenance and low cost.

The claim of spontaneous combustion is clearly ridiculous to anyone who has taken Biology 101. Decomposition is the result of bacterial action breaking down the wood fiber material and is self-regulating; if it gets too hot, the bacteria are killed, stopping decomposition. Some other agent had to contribute to starting the fire.

Gary Max, President
SiteLines park and Playground Products
Everett, Wash.

The University of Hawai'i' Manoa campus tree.

Re "Last Campus Heritage Grants Announced" in which the University of Hawai'i' Manoa campus received one of 15 Getty grants to map, photograph and archive historic architecture and plant species on campus.

Dave Graham, ASLA wrote:

In the August issue you show on p. 145 a picture at the Univ. of Hawai'i (Manoa campus). The picture is near the campus center and recently was the site of the ISA International Tree Climbing Competition (ITCC). This tree was used for one of five events (Speed Climb) and I would love to send you a few pictures of the event. I am the volunteer phtographer for the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at the ITCC.

Ed's note: We contacted Dave to ask for those images. It's interesting to see the extracurricular activities of landscape architects!

Dave Graham, ASLA
The D. W. G. Co.
Owner & Landscape Architect
Janesville, Wis.

Nancy Stremple wrote:

Hi, I receive your newsletter and love it. How do I go about submitting information such as available grants, information and requests for nominations to our National Advisory Council?
Is there a contact person with which I can share information?

Nancy Stremple
US Forest Service
Executive Staff to National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, National Urban Forestry Specialist/Landscape Architect
Washington, D.C.

Ed's note: We contacted Nancy to let her know where to send information. Any information or inquires can be directed to Steve Kelly at

Re "Minnesota Faces Blue-Green Algae Problem" (on in which the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns that pets and livestock can become sick or even die from drinking "toxic algae."

Jeff Alderman wrote:

At Alderman Engineering, we have designed lakes, water bodies, and water features for over 22 years. One of our most important accomplishments is to achieve very good water quality and decrease algal growths with such systems as biological filtration, aeration and ozone. We would be interested in being contacted if there is some interest in finding solutions to these algae problems.

Jeff Alderman
Alderman Engineering
Owner, Design Engineer
Cottonwood, Calif.

Re "Florida Golf Courses Fined" (on in which at least 57 golf courses were fined in one month for failure to report water use amid south Florida's "third-worst drought in 80 years," according to the South Florida Water Management District. Courses that use reclaimed water are excused from the reporting water usage.

Russel Prophit wrote:

I'm an irrigation consultant in Winter Haven, Fla. Before that I spent four years working for a couple of the areas largest landscape and irrigation design build firms in the Fort Myers/Bonita Springs area. Before that, I was in the Venice/Sarasota area for over three years working for one of the most well respected design build firms in that area. I hold four certifications from the Irrigation Association (IA) in irrigation, two in design, one each in contracting and auditing. I am a second-generation irrigation professional with over 30 years experience in the design, installation and service in irrigation. I am an Accredited Training Provider for the IA and our firm provides contract-training services to Rain Bird, teaching irrigation design along with other courses throughout the U.S.

I moved to Florida in 1999 and have seen irrigation systems all over the state. Most of the problems we have due to water shortages and overtaxed water delivery systems are because of the inability of most irrigation designers and contractors to design and install efficient irrigation systems. With little to no regulation in the design and installation of irrigation systems, cost is the major deciding factor in choosing the contractor and/or the irrigation system. The reason is for many areas in Florida the cost of water is not a deciding factor in determining the choice of the system. Many systems work off wells, pumps and/or very low cost reclaimed water and thus the amount of water required for the system is a nonfactor in the choice of purchasing a system.

Manufactures have made great strides to provide irrigation control systems, but to maximize water savings the system must be efficiently designed and installed to provide the correct coverage and water distribution. The majority of the systems I have seen in Florida do not meet the minimum standards of efficiency as put forth by the IA.

Without increasing the efficiency of the systems any change in controller technology (e.g., ET-based systems) will only save a small percentage of the water because the run time will have to be increased to compensate for the poor uniformity of distribution of the system.

For example, if you have one acre of warm season turf grass in Fort Myers, Fla., a system with 55 percent efficiency (an IA rating of fair) would have a water usage of 1,408,900 GPY. A system with 65 percent efficiency (an IA good rating) would use 1,192,146 GPY. The 10 percent increase in efficiency would save 216,754 GPY. An annual average water usage for a family of four is 116,800 GPY. A system with 75 percent efficiency (rating of very good) uses 1,033,193 GPY. The savings from 55 percent to 75 percent would be a total of 375,707 GPY or enough water for a family of 4 for 3.2 years. And this is on only one irrigated acre of turf.

Russel Prophit
Precise Irrigation Design and Consulting, Inc.
Winter Haven, Fla.

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December 14, 2019, 8:19 am PDT

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