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Spray Park Water Treatment System Design
- What Matters?
Three Professional Viewpoints

By Del Williams, technical writer, Torrance, Calif. Photos courtesy of Waterplay Solutions Corp.




Due to drought and water rationing looming in Southern California, we wouldn't have been able to operate the aquatic playground with a conventional drain-to-sewer system, says Brad Roberts, lead project manager for San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation's Hilton Head Park. Roberts estimates the recycled water treatment system saves 527,000 gallons of potable water annually.

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Water conservation and safety are growing concerns for landscape architects, parks and recreation departments and aquatic designers. Waterplay Solutions Corp. of Kelowna, BC, Canada, notes that as the question changes from should we construct a spray park to whats the best design for our spray park, landscape architects, parks and recreation managers, and aquatic designers are focusing on recognizing the need for collaboration.

Whats emerging is a focus on better design from concept through operation, maintenance and paying the water bill. Of particular concern is water conservation and safety, with an emphasis on better water treatment system design.






Recycled water systems in splash parks make use of sand filtration and chlorination, but also ultraviolet disinfection to kill bacteria such as cryptosporidium and E. coli.


Expect Stronger Health, Safety Standards

Like other proactive landscape architecture firms, Scatliff, Miller, and Murray incorporates water conservation into its design vision. Water safety and visual impact, along with practical, budget-oriented implementation round out its spray park goals.

As landscape architects, our bias is to stewardship of the land and its resources, including clean water which is getting scarcer, says Bob Somers, an associate landscape architect at Scatliff, Miller, and Murray, a landscape architecture and urban design-consulting firm based in Winnipeg. Like many communities, were turning from flow-to-drain to recirculation systems.

Somers expects stronger health and safety standards in the spray park and interactive fountain markets as they grow and mature.






To conserve water in spray parks a combination of high and low-flow spray nozzles and a water treatment/recirculation system is essential.


A full range of water source and treatment options available is key, says Somers. Having technical expertise at hand is necessary as well.

The firms Central Park project is a five-acre playground in Winnipeg that includes a 6,500 sq. ft. spray park. To conserve water in the spray park, a combination of high and low-flow spray nozzles will be used, along with a water treatment and recirculation system provided by Waterplay Solutions Corp., a spray park and water treatment system provider based in Kelowna, Canada.

Sand filtration, chlorine and ultra-violet treatment greatly enhance the safety and cleanliness of the recirculated water.

High-intensity ultra-violet treatment is another level of protection to deal with bacteria and other potential pathogens in recirculated water.

To integrate the architecture with the landscape, the water treatment system, including a recirculated water cistern, is located in a building basement with no obstructive structures aboveground.






One water-saving feature at splash pads is an activator button on some of the equipment to prompt the flow of water for a set number of minutes


Parks & Rec Saving Resources

In drought-affected Southern California, the San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) envisioned a nautical-themed interactive spray park. Water conservation, water safety and play value had to be key parts of the design.

In a partnership between DPR and a local advisory group, the first admission-free, recirculating public aquatic playground was constructed at Hilton Head Park.

The goal was to build a facility that would be a model for water conservation, energy efficiency, fun and safety, says Brad Roberts, lead project manager for DPR. Due to drought, water rationing is looming in Southern California, says Roberts. We wouldnt have been able to operate the aquatic playground with a conventional drain-to-sewer system. With the new water treatment system, well achieve quick payback by saving an estimated 527,000 gallons of potable water annually.

Control of the water features was put into the childrens hands via an activator at the aquatic playground. The water features run in a seven-minute sequence when someone touches the activator.

The recirculating water treatment system provides chlorination and ultraviolet disinfection to kill bacteria such as cryptosporidium and E. coli.

The Hilton Head Park aquatic playground received a 2008 Award of Excellence from the California Parks and Recreation Society and a San Diego Excellence in Energy award for Outstanding Organizational Achievement in Energy from the Center for Sustainable Energy.






A recycling water cistern in the basement of this building supplies the water for the play area without obstructing the architecture and landscaping.


Aquatic Design Options

For a limited spray feature in a small community, potable drain-to-waste water disposal might work. For a resort with golf course, retain and reuse irrigation might be fine. But most of the time, a treated water system will be the best, most ecological, economical fit for the long-term, says Jacinda Tuesing, a designer and project manager for the Aquatic Facility Design, Millersburg, Penn.

One park pool complex wanted to use a water recirculation and treatment system, but had no room for the equipment, says Tuesing. The solution was a water treatment system in a below-grade vault, accessible through hatches that blended in with the park. Nothing above ground blocked the view, the pool or the park.


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December 10, 2019, 7:46 pm PDT

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