A Recipe For Success

From spray cannons and slides to sneaky soakers, the elements that make spray parks such magical water worlds are quickly becoming the desired solution for recreational enhancement in a number of communities.

Before deciding whether to build a spray park, it is imperative to take the necessary steps to ensure its success. By doing this, a designer can create a safe and successful spray park that will have a lasting impression on the community.

Define Objectives

First, it is important to define some key objectives:

1. What is more important–play value or aesthetic appeal?

Although both are essential, one may need to be sacrificed for the other. A great-looking park enhances the surrounding environment, but a park that offers a variety of interactive play features as well as promoting creativity and imagination keeps visitors coming back.

2. Who is the target market?

If it spans ages from toddlers to “tweens,” decisions regarding features and layout will be much different than designing a facility appealing primarily to the 7- to 12-year-old market. Although adults design facilities and select features, children make them come alive. To create a successful spray park, a designer must objectively look at the features from the perspective of its target market.

Essential Ingredients

Whether updating an existing facility, enhancing hotel amenities or creating a new public attraction, a spray park requires three essential elements–water, electricity and sufficient drainage. During the initial planning stages, it is important to know and understand local public-health and safety codes and regulations, as they can significantly influence decisions regarding water usage, feature selection and surfacing.


In recent years, public-health authorities have become more actively involved in establishing water-quality standards for spray parks. There may also be environmental restrictions on water usage that can affect the overall design. Even if specific standards do not exist, the spray park should be designed in a manner that makes efficient water consumption a priority.

Today’s environment supports three main water-management options:

1. Potable, drain-to-waste systems. Public water sources are used to feed the features in the park, and water is drained to the storm/wastewater system. This is a low-cost option for small spray parks with low water usage. It ensures a high-quality water source at all times, and reduces health risks.

2. Water treatment/recirculating systems. Water is drained into a holding tank, treated, and then reused in the park. This is a more expensive option, but the best solution for larger parks or areas with strict water policies. Many jurisdictions are mandating the use of a water-treatment system, and have established health codes for which these systems must be approved. The size and cost of a treated water system will vary depending on the size of the spray park, the number of features and the relative water-flow rates. Usage expectations for the park and the type of disinfection required (e.g., chlorine only, chlorine plus ultraviolet [UV] light, CO2, etc.) also play a factor in the cost. This is currently the most common form of water management in the spray-park industry.

3. Retain-and-reuse systems. Greywater (wastewater generated from domestic activities, i.e., laundry, dishwashing and bathing) is collected and utilized for other applications, such as irrigation, washroom facilities and street cleaning. Retain-and-reuse systems are a relatively new concept. They are specifically designed for each unique environment, and take into consideration the volume of water that will be captured, the amount that can be practically reused and the best distribution method.

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