Feature Article - April 2011
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Puddle-Loving Fun

New Developments in Sprayground Design

By Deborah L. Vence

Staff Operations

By far, one of the enduring trends in many communities is how they control their operating expenses in an aquatic experience.

"Oftentimes, [communities] want to expand aquatics without expanding staff—for underserved portions of the community. Splashpads offer that opportunity in neighborhood parks, so people could walk, and not travel as much. And so, now we've reached a point where we provide something for underserved communities," Whiteaker said, adding that water sustainability and energy conservation are other ways being looked at to reduce the cost of operations.

In terms of staffing, Hancock said spraygrounds do not require staffing for supervision, but do require about an hour a day of cleaning and servicing the equipment as well as weekly draining the tank and refilling—which helps reduce the cost of operations, an ongoing issue for parks and recreation.

Still, operators need to be aware that maintenance of a sprayground can be labor-intensive.

"Many of the spray features will be clogged up with grass clippings and debris from the area. Spraygrounds must be inspected every day to properly address this issue. Spraygrounds acquire quite a bit of trash, band-aids and other debris from daily use and must be maintained for a clean and safe environment," Moya said.

For example, the city of Greeley operates its spraygrounds with an attendant present during operational hours. This does not follow the trends of stand-alone spraygrounds, though.

"Most cities build spraygrounds as facilities that do not require supervision. These facilities do not typically have bathhouses, offices or fences when they are built. I believe that this cuts down on construction and operational costs," Moya said. "I believe that non-staffed facilities operate with less cost and do not need to focus on items such as rentals, parties and special events. As long as the maintenance and upkeep is being monitored throughout the day, these facilities can see the same amount of attendance and will still be able to operate in a safe and clean environment.

"The one true benefit to having an attendant at the city of Greeley facilities is that they can monitor what is happening at each facility and if a blood-borne pathogen or fecal incident occurs, they can address it according to the state health code requirements," Moya said.

This, of course, cannot be achieved at spraygrounds that are unsupervised.

"Staff is always needed to define how an incident needs to be addressed. Staff can monitor and log the chemicals and make sure that the facility is operating within the parameters set by the state health codes and determine when the facility can be opened again," Moya added. "Cleanup of the facility can be addressed immediately instead of waiting for someone to show up after a report has been made. This goes a long way with our customers and that is what keeps them coming back."