Water, Water Everywhere – Or Is It?

So, as parks and rec professionals, what can we do to curb our appetite for water? Parks and rec departments can be huge water consumers; irrigation, water parks and pools, drinking fountains, toilets, arts and crafts, and so on are all water hogs.

I’d like to hear some ideas from PRB leaders who are readers in the field; what are you doing in your communities to address this critical issue?

Or, is it being ignored? Are all the warning signs being cast aside in the name of pleasing the public? Is the overwhelming demand for pretty, green playing fields and parks overriding the larger issue of water shortage?

In my humble opinion, there is a way to serve both purposes; I think we can have great fields and attractive parks and still cut down on water use.

I think waste versus use should be looked at first. Are fields and parks being over-watered? Is irrigation shut off when it’s raining? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen irrigation systems going full blast during a major days-long rain event.

Are leaking faucets, toilets or water fountains ignored for months – or years – instead of being fixed right away?

Are there areas being irrigated that don’t really need it, such as perimeter areas of parks that can be left in a natural state?

Is the entire parks and rec staff sensitized to the issue so they can be on the lookout for water waste?

Office and facility staffs can be the first to detect leaks. The maintenance staff can be a major player in this effort because they are in the field, every day, seeing things office staff may not see. But sometimes when we see something every day it slowly becomes invisible. So the entire staff has to be informed and encouraged to be on the lookout and report water waste.

Is the public encouraged to help? The users see things from a different perspective than staff, who can get so involved in their jobs that they fail to notice things like leaking faucets or toilets with sticking valves that run continuously.

It would be great to hear some ideas from the field. What are you doing that others might be able to emulate? Imitation is the highest form of flattery; so get flattered, share your story and let someone imitate you.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.

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