Supplement Feature - May 2019
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Making a Splash!

The Latest Trends in Splash Play Design

By Dave Ramont

Hachmeister said they're seeing more people dumping water that's gone through the play area into retention ponds for repurposing. "They then use this water for irrigating lawns and fields. This is not a new innovation, but it's becoming more popular." Sometimes the water is returned to the municipal wastewater system or percolated back to the water table.

Hachmeister explained how they've been working with some municipalities on maximum daily water usage for their interactive water venue, where the city is willing to commit to a certain gallons-per-day limit for a particular park amenity. "On days that don't reach their limit, it will pass on to the next day's usage allotment. Once the daily water-use allotment has been reached, the water venue will be turned off."

Recirculation systems in spray parks are the most popular, according to Hachmeister, where the water is recycled and disinfected and used again. "Recirculation systems are also better for sensory play because the nozzles that are used are larger then what is used on domestic systems."

Other eco-friendly features include high-efficiency nozzles that optimize water usage and on-demand activators that ensure that water is only flowing when the products are in use. There are also systems that allow control of water play and display solutions from remote locations, reducing onsite visits for some maintenance and operations issues.

Low-flow water features use light mists and small directional streams. "Many urban settings or areas that have limited water availability benefit from our low-flow products," said Dubuc. These elements are also desirable to people who might want to cool off without going to a pool, and can even do so in street clothes. In fact, you might even see people in your neighborhood splashing around in a fountain.

"Another trend has been for more interactive fountains used as spray parks," said Hachmeister. "These are being installed in residential and retail settings."

Over at Del Mar, O'Neill said their water is recirculated but also refreshed with an auto-fill feature, recirculating more than 90 percent of the existing water. "We included a supersized UV system capable of sanitizing over 670,000 gallons. This reduced the need of some chemicals and eliminated others. We also installed an efficient backwash system that allows us to backwash while the system continues to run and without affecting the patrons in the pool."

Some facilities may wish to interchange water features between sites or simply add something new each season without excessive construction. They may also wish to move or increase a splash pad size and reuse the existing equipment. Therefore, many features are designed with universal bases for easy removal. "We always try to design our products for ease of installation, retrofit or exchange," said Tracy. "As our flanges are two standard sizes and surface-mounted without complicated foundations, our products are easily interchanged."

In an effort to increase membership to the Memphis Children's Museum in Tennessee, a splash pad was installed as a second gate area, with non-members paying for use while museum members received free access. The garden-themed park boasts more than 40 spraying water features with jet streams, mists, geysers and water tunnels. The museum opted for the possibility of expansion using technology allowing for easy installation of new products. The park was very successful—increasing memberships and bringing guests back—so new features were added including fish, a snake, a sea serpent and bamboo cannon.

When it comes to boosting attendance at your facility, Hachmeister said "build it and they will come!" He said that splash pads and playgrounds will attract patrons who will spend tax dollars in the community. "Also, build your splash pad larger to anticipate a larger crowd. We've found that the popularity of splash pads brings more people from outside your community than what is projected."

Hachmeister said it's also important to build for inclusive play. "People who are looking for inclusive play seek out places intended for their kids' physical and mental needs."

"I always tell prospective buyers that the little ones are their greatest marketing asset as they are the ones with 'pester power,' and often the ones that decide the facility where the whole family ends up for the day, weekend or holiday," said Tracy. "For a minimal investment, an exciting water play facility will always be a favorite among the young ones."

He added that these facilities not only provide an exciting day for the kids, but also a relaxing day for parents who can either splash around or relax knowing that the kids aren't in any danger with deep water.

"The Lubbock community loves the splash pad," said Johnson. "It's just something that not many places have around here. We have family memberships so parents can work out in our fitness facility and splash with their kids, which has helped our revenue, but we also have plenty of people that still come and buy day passes just to swim."