Spray-Park Water-Treatment System Design

For hands-on family fun and imaginative heat relief, spray parks are catching on in communities around the world.

As the question changes from “Should we construct a spray park?” to “What’s the best design for our spray park?”, professionals, such as landscape architects, parks and recreation managers and aquatic designers, are recognizing the need for collaboration.

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

Landscape Architects, Stewards Of The Land

Like other proactive landscape architecture firms, Scatliff, Miller, and Murray, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is a proponent of water conservation, which it incorporates into its design vision. Visual impact, along with practical, budget-oriented implementation, round out the spray-park goals on appropriate projects. “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 the firm. “Like many communities, as we balance the need for a spray park in a hot summer climate with responsible water use, we’re turning from flow-to-drain to recirculation systems.”

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

“From a visual-design perspective, our goal is to integrate the spray park or fountain into the landscape, to make them a destination, whether the water is on or off,” says Somers.

“To ease the design process, having a full range of water source and treatment options available is the key,” adds Somers. “Having technical expertise at hand is necessary as well.”

The firm’s projects show how its water conservation, health and visual design goals can easily work together. Its Central Park project will create a 5-acre destination playground for an urban Winnipeg community with a 6,500-square-foot spray park, soccer field, sledding hill and other amenities. To conserve water in the spray park, a combination of high- and low-flow spray nozzles will be used, along with a state-of-the-art water-treatment recirculation system.

Sand filtration, chlorine use and ultraviolet treatment to kill bacteria greatly enhance the safety and cleanliness of the recirculated water. While filtration and chlorine are commonly used to sanitize swimming pools, high-intensity, ultraviolet treatment is an even more effective level of protection from 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.

Among the visual attractions of the spray park will be a waterfall cascading off a cement canopy into a wading pool, plus a number of fully interactive spray features.

Saving Resources and Communities

In drought-affected Southern California, the County of San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) envisioned a nautical-themed interactive spray park open to its diverse communities. Water conservation, water safety and play value had to be key parts of its design. The result was an award-winning aquatic playground that saves over 500,000 gallons of potable water annually.

Before October 2008, there were no admission-free, recirculating aquatic playgrounds in San Diego County, where children and their families could escape triple-digit temperatures. The only other facility of this kind was in a neighboring community, fee-based and non-recirculating, making spray-park aquatic recreation costly and inaccessible to much of the county’s population.

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