Twice The Use

To flow-through or not to flow-through? That was the question two years ago when city officials in West Bend, Wis., were designing a new splash pad. Because of the uniqueness of Regner Park–the city’s oldest community park–a decision was made to push the envelope on innovation, and create a flow-through system that would use water a second time for a swimming pond.

A toddler enjoys the splash pad

A Unique Opportunity

Regner Park’s features originated during the 1930s when projects were iniated by the the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Work Projects Administration. As with any park constructed during that time, it had great facilities that needed some updating, including the 1.75-acre swim pond and the classic “Citizens Conservation Corp” lannon-stone and dark-stained wood bathhouse and bandstand.

Since 1935, a well has been supplying fresh swim water to the pond through a waterfall, which swimmers also have enjoyed. In the mid-1980s, a second well was added to prevent the department from draining its entire aquatic budget on paying for city water to keep the swimmers afloat.

Thanks to the community’s interest in rejuvenating the park for its 75th anniversary, a plan was set in motion for the city’s first splash pad–Rotary Splashpad–at the park.

Staff members researched the flow-through vs. recirculation question, “Why can’t we use the current well system to supply water for the splash pad? Even better yet, let’s look at using one of the current wells to supply water for both the splash pad and swim pond.”

Water from the splash pad flows through to the swimming pond.

It sounded like a crazy idea at first, and seemed to push the limits of what some aquatic consultants really wanted to consider. It actually raised more questions than answers! But as most professionals in the parks and recrecation field have experienced, we usually are not satisfied until all options are explored and people are pushed to think, in this case, outside the splash pad.

Flow-Through Systems

The flow-through splash-pad system is a tried-and-true way to build splash pads in Wisconsin for two reasons:

1. Lower costs for both construction and operations are appealing to council members.

2. Less time spent by staff members with chemicals and backwashing makes directors happy.

Recent issues of swim-related illnesses throughout the country have made people think twice about recirculated splash pads. But how to answer the question of flushing the water down the drain, never to be used again?

Most communities in Wisconsin–and the Midwest, for that matter–that use flow-through systems are located near the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan, in our case) or other inland lakes and rivers, where the water flows to and is used again. This particular well-water flows from the swim pond to a small creek, then flows into the Milwaukee River and eventually into Lake Michigan, even though the city is 30 miles away from the Great Lake.

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  2. From Splash Pad To Sprinkler
  3. Day-Camp Excursions
  4. Making Water Work
  5. The Anatomy Of A Splash Pad
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