Spray-Park Water-Treatment System 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’s Hilton Head Park, phase 2 improvement project.

The necessary water features were added to make the aquatic playground’s nautical theme come alive. Ground sprays were placed directly over the blowholes of a killer whale and dolphins, a circular spray was added to mimic the arms of an octopus, and a water cannon was added to protect the buried treasure on Pirate’s Cove Island.

Control of the water features was put into the children’s hands via an activator at the aquatic playground. The water features run in a seven-minute sequence when someone touches the activator. This means the aquatic playground only operates when children actually play in the spray park, rather than the water running continuously during published hours.

The result is less water evaporation, power usage and unused water drainage.

The aquatic playground also uses an innovative recirculating water-treatment system that provides broad-spectrum, chlorinated, ultraviolet disinfection, killing bacteria, such as cryptosporidium and E. coli. “We realized the new water-treatment system would not only conserve water, but also save taxpayer dollars spent on potable water that would otherwise be lost to the sewer system,” says Roberts.

“Due to drought, water rationing is looming in Southern California,” says Roberts. “We wouldn’t have been able to operate the aquatic playground with a conventional drain-to-sewer system. “With the new water-treatment system, we’ll achieve quick payback by saving an estimated 527,000 gallons of potable water annually.”

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. Its success has even prompted other organizations to inquire about the design and construction of the project in order to replicate its features, says Roberts.

Aquatic Designers, Supplying Needed Options

Since Aquatic Facility Design, a Millersburg, Penn.-based designer, deals with clients ranging from municipalities to resorts and swim clubs, it needs the full range of water source and treatment options available for spray parks, says Jacinda Tuesing, a lead designer and project manager for the company.

“We need all the available water options for a spray park since we never know what clients will require,” says Tuesing. “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.”

And because each client application is different, a vendor with the flexibility to modify spray-park features and water-treatment systems can be helpful.

“One park pool complex wanted to use a water recirculation and treatment system, but had no room for the equipment,” says Tuesing. “One option was to put the water-treatment system in a below-grade vault, accessible through hatches that blended in with the park. The solution worked. Nothing above ground blocked the view, the pool or the park. They also customize spray features for us when we need something of a different size or aesthetics.”

As spray parks continue to evolve, and the demands for environmentally sensitive options increase, finding a water-management system that can meet or exceed these expectations is becoming a paramount consideration during the spray-park design process. The increase in collaborative efforts between project parties and equipment manufacturers becomes even more important to ensure the park vision, design and regulatory standards are achieved. The ultimate result of these combined efforts is end-user safety and satisfaction.

Cory Forrest is a Product Line Manager with Waterplay Solutions Corp. Having designed and sold projects throughout the world, he has an understanding of all facets of spray-park development.

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