Right on Time

Sycamore Park Sprayground in Fort Worth, Texas

By Mike Fowler

In spring 2009, Fort Worth, Texas, was expecting to open a new spray park, built by Sunbelt Pools. However, in the summer of 2008, the Dallas/Ft. Worth area was hit by an outbreak of Cryptosporidium, which caused the local health department to require additional systems to be put in place on all swimming pools and spray parks in the area. The challenge was to satisfy the requirements while ensuring the spray park opened on time.

The Sycamore Park Spray ground is a municipal facility owned by the City of Fort Worth. It features 100 percent filtration and UV treatment. The splashpad area is 2,000 square feet and includes 15 water features that use a total of 4,000 gallons of water.

The sprayground is located in Southeast Fort Worth and sees about 200 visitors on any given day during the hot Texas summer.

The construction team building the new sprayground was responsible for installing all sprayground piping and mechanical, the high-rate sand filters, chemical controllers, a chlorination system, a variable frequency drive and a UV system for additional protection from waterborne pathogens like Cryptosporidium.

Sunbelt Pools had already begun construction of the project when the health department informed the city that it was now requiring full-time filtration, chlorination and UV treatment—24/7 if the water was to be re-circulated. Otherwise, the parks department would be forced to let the water "drain away" and be wasted—which is costly, wasteful and therefore not a viable option.

The Parks Department wanted the spray park opened on time in the spring of 2009, and the Health Department did not want another Cryptosporidium outbreak in 2009. The team in charge of getting the project completed on time had to come up with a good solution—and fast.

The chosen route ultimately satisfied both parties. It included the installation of a variable frequency drive with an easy-to-use EQ pump. The VFD is a relatively new technology that allows the system to ramp up to full speed during the day. At night, it triggers an automatic valve allowing the water to filter down into a re-circulating holding tank below the spray park area where the water is treated.

Sunbelt Pools agreed that the variable frequency drive was a good solution because it provides an incredible energy savings for this type of application, and it is very intelligent—by allowing remote actuator valves to open and close automatically. It allows the pump to cut its speed in half at night when the spray park is not in use.

Designed to save energy and operating costs of pumps for commercial aquatic facilities, variable frequency drives offer increased pump performance in all aquatic pump applications, and can ultimately result in an energy savings of as much as 98 percent.

Specified to save energy, space, costs and time, the variable frequency drive is built to be the heart of the pump room. With minimal payback time, it is designed for automatic energy optimization and even offers a built-in display that shows the time remaining until the drive pays for itself. The unit offers a built-in DC link reactor to reduce harmonic noise and protect the drive. It also offers an initial ramp, which provides acceleration of pumps to a desired minimum speed, at which time the normal ramp takes over—preventing damage to thrust bearing and overheating of the pump. The unit is designed for a wide range of operation conditions and comes with a thermal protection for the drive and the motor.

The construction team also installed an EQ pump on the system—a high-performance, low-noise-level unit with closed impellers that guarantee a longer motor life even under the stress of higher loads. This lightweight, all-plastic pump construction is designed for maximum hydraulic performance, maximum corrosion resistance and one-man installation. The EQ pump is particularly well suited to this particular pump room because it is self priming, highly energy efficient and has a motor rated for use with a variable frequency drive. The large trap basket makes it easy to service with all the trees and foliage in the area.

This solution was put into place, and the park was completed on time with no delays, even with the new changes.

The project has run efficiently and been a great success in the community. Since this success of this installation, other parks have been installed in the Dallas using the same concepts, and more are planned because of the efficient way the park operates and provides safe, clean water and fun for the community.


Fort Worth Park Department: www.fortworthgov.org/pacs/

Kimley-Horn and Associates: www.kimley-horn.com

Sunbelt Pools: www.sunbeltpools.com

Pentair: www.pentair.com

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