With their hands-on family fun and imaginative
heat relief, sprayparks are catching on in communities around the
globe. As the number and size of spraypark installations grow, more
industry professionals are asking, “What is the best
water-management system for our spraypark?”
In recent years, public health authorities have become more
actively involved in limiting water usage and establishing
water-quality standards for sprayparks.
Even if specific limits and standards do not exist, social and
environmental influences are dictating that sprayparks be designed
in a manner that makes water conservation a priority.
Ongoing collaboration between manufacturers, professionals,
contractors and end users is leading to a focus on better design,
from concept through to operation and maintenance. As the industry
matures, more emphasis is being placed on providing options for
sustainable solutions that meet different needs. First, a quick
explanation of the three options that are most prevalent.
1 Water-treatment systems (recirculation). Water
is sprayed from the features and then drained into a collection
tank. The water goes through a process of filtration, chemical
treatment (and preferably UV disinfection) before being reused in
the park. Water-treatment systems are typically the most expensive
option initially, but can be the best long-term solution for large
parks or parks in areas with strict water policies.
2 Retain-and-reuse systems. Water is sprayed from
the features and then drained into a large collection tank. The
water in the tank is treated and utilized for other applications
such as irrigation, washroom facilities and/or street cleaning.
Retain-and-reuse systems are a relatively new concept for
sprayparks; they are specifically designed for each unique
environment. The system must take into consideration the volume of
water that will be captured, the amount that can be practically
reused and the best distribution method.
3 Potable, drain-to-waste systems. Potable water
(from a municipal supply line) is sprayed from the features and
then drained to the storm or sanitary sewer.
Determining the type of water-management system should start with a
call to the local health department to see which regulations are
currently in place and any pending changes. Implementation of a
water-treatment system or a retain-and-reuse system usually
requires health department approval; it is important to engage
health officials in the early stages of planning and evaluation.
Most suppliers will work with the designer to provide the
documentation needed throughout the approval process. The time and
effort involved in getting approval should be factored into the
budget and project timeline.
While considering water usage is critical in the planning stage, it
is also important to understand the water source. Does the
project location have a primary water source readily available? Is
it a potable water supply, well water, lake water or some other
type of water source? Answers to these questions can influence the
overall site plan, as well as the design of the water management
solution best suited to the environment.
The size and cost of the water-management system will vary
depending on the size of the spraypark, the number of features and
their relative water flow rates. Today, most sprayparks utilize a
controller and activators to sequence the flow of water and to
place operation of the park’s features into the hands of
users. The electronic control reduces water usage because water
only flows when the park is in use. At the same time, it also
increases the intrigue and interactivity of the park because kids
will try to anticipate which components will spray next.
If the decision to use a water recirculation system is most
applicable (in most cases it is), the filtration method most
commonly used is sand filtration. Filtration is coupled with
chlorine disinfection and ideally with ultraviolet (UV) treatment
to supplement sanitation and reduce the risk of waterborne
illnesses. UV treatment adds an extra safeguard against
chlorine-resistant pathogens in the water.
When designing the water recirculation system, safeguards and
improvements can be added. There should be automated chemical
controls that maintain the chemical balance in the collection tank
and shut off the feature pump if the water quality falls outside
the acceptable parameters specified by the health authority.
A strainer and diverter system can be added to pre-screen large
debris and media prior to drainage into the collection tank. A
diverter can be added to redirect rainwater from the pad when the
park is not in use to prevent the dilution of the chemicals in the
Keep in mind that water recirculation systems will need to be
manually checked to ensure that the chemical levels are within
their allowable range and that the system is performing within the
health standards and regulations. The frequency of the manual
checks is usually set by the health authority and typically it is
once to several times daily. The maintenance staff required for
these manual checks should be factored into the long-term operation
and maintenance planning.
If retain and reuse is the chosen method, ensure you have a
thorough understanding of how and where the water will be used.
These systems can get derailed if designers have difficulty getting
buy-in from the different departments that will be
Regardless of the amount and how the water is used, a spraypark is
a place to have fun; the process of planning one should exemplify
the fun associated with the industry. Building the spraypark of
everyone’s dreams is made easy if you take time to understand
the needs of the community, collaborate with your project partners
and work together to make decisions based on long-term goals.