City finds sprayparks a challenge to maintain

Kids enjoying the Beacon Mountain spraypark at the Jefferson Jubilee last month. Photo by Wendi Dunlap.

by Rose Egge, KOMO Communities
(Beacon Hill news partners)

In recent years, Seattle Parks and Recreation has converted several summer wading pool sites to sprayparks. Currently, there are nine sprayparks in Seattle, with a tenth scheduled to open in 2013.

According to the city, sprayparks use less water and appeal to a wider range of ages of kids than the wading pools intended for toddlers.

While parks staff claim the parks have been a success, they have also created a challenge for staff. The three newest sprayparks—at Northacres Park, Georgetown Playfield and Beacon Hill’s Beacon Mountain playground in Jefferson Park—have been shut off multiple times this past weekend because of very high usage.

Sprayparks operate similarly to swimming pools. The water is filtered, re-circulated, and chemically balanced to meet public health agency standards. If the balance varies from these standards, the system shuts off until the water is automatically rebalanced. The rebalance process generally takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

Over this past weekend with its very warm weather and heavy use of the sprayparks, the tanks at the new sprayparks became clogged; the filters could not keep up with the decreased flow and shut off the systems. Bulbs in the ultraviolet (UV) system, which helps sterilize and disinfect the water, overheated and turned off the spray features.

Parks technical staff who maintain the sprayparks are changing operating procedures to solve the problem, working with the contractor to eliminate shutdowns, and working with the UV manufacturer to find out how to solve the bulb problem.

The city has released this statement:

Parks appreciates the public’s patience while we work to eliminate system shut downs. Spraypark users can help by wearing swim attire and no street clothes or shoes on the splashpad and by keeping dogs off the splashpad.