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Water Woes

Sat, 03/01/2003 - 9:00am
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1 year ago
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Water Woes

Is a Recirculated Water Operating Systems an Option for Your Splash Pad?

Water is often seen as being abundant and renewable. But as demand for freshwater continues to rise, with water quality issues adding to the concern, municipalities across the country are looking for innovative ways to help manage and conserve this precious resource. 

With the rising popularity of zero-depth aquatic play areas or splash pads, comes the concern of safeguarding the health of the community, while at the same time protecting a capital investment. 

Drain away vs. Recirculated

There are two types of Splashpad operating systems available for your aquatic play area. The first is the drain away option, in which the city’s potable water supply is used to supply water. With this system, water is drained to the city’s storm or sanitary lines or collected and used to irrigate surrounding areas. The second option, becoming increasingly popular in areas where water consumption is an issue, is a recirculated water filtration and treatment system. This system filters and chemically treats water from a holding tank, while constantly monitoring the quality of water being recirculated. 

When considering recirculated water options, it is important to understand that it is more expensive and involves additional costs not only in materials but also during the installation or construction phase. It also requires more effort to maintain and operate than a drain away system. 

Another solution is to incorporate an automation system in addition to choosing features with special nozzles specifically designed to minimize water consumption. By having the water events run automatically on a number of predetermined sequences, only a few features are turned on at once during a given period of time. Aside from the reduced water consumption and lower operating expense, this option has an interactive element for heightened play value. 

There is a widely held misconception that more water equals more fun. This is simply not true. In fact, the fun and excitement of an aquatic play area is derived more from the interaction, cause, and effect, and overall play value of the features, than from the amount of water supplied. 

But, if your goal is to reduce water consumption while ensuring safe, high-quality water at all times, there is no better option than a water filtration and treatment system. However, compatibility issues, as well as installation and maintenance costs, are key factors to consider. It is also important to understand the differences between the water filtration and treatment equipment required for a pool versus that of an aquatic play area.

Splashpads vs. Pools

When it comes to filtration, the most significant difference between a pool and an aquatic play area is water volume. The body of water in a public pool can typically range anywhere from 20,000 gallons to 2 million gallons (Olympic), whereas a splash pad will accommodate 3000-5000 gallons in an underground reservoir. Consequently, the ratio of bathers to volume of water is much higher, which means there is a need to detect contaminants much more quickly. Because an aquatic play area can be installed in an unsupervised environment, it is recommended that the system be able to filter and treat all the water in its holding tank within 10-15 minutes. By comparison, a public pool needs approximately six hours to turnover, whereas a spa or hot tub should do so in about 30 minutes. 

Water Woes

Design Criteria 

Innovative new features such as automated controllers and alert systems that monitor water quality and adjust chemicals accordingly are also essential components for any system using recirculated water. These programmable chemical controllers constantly monitor and regulate pH (alkaline) and ORP (oxidation-reduction potential) levels to keep bacteria from building up. 

The system should be equipped with failsafe features that not only protect the health of users but also components of the filter system itself. In the event of contamination, water distribution to the features must be immediately halted until the water quality in the holding tank returns to acceptable levels. And should the water level in the holding tank become too low, the system should shut down until makeup water is added, to protect the pump from being damaged. 

Added Value 

There are several advantages to having a pre-engineered system that is completely compatible with an aquatic play area’s automation and water distribution systems. Not only does it simplify installation and minimize on-site work, but it also reduces maintenance and operating costs. 

Whichever option you choose, drain away, or water recirculation system, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local health & safety codes and restrictions regarding aquatic play environments. This way, you’ll be sure to have a safe, clean facility that your community will enjoy for years to come.

Thinking Today About Tomorrow's Play™ The only magazine that is 100% dedicated to the Playground Industry

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