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Designing spray parks

Three essential ingredients

Whether updating an existing facility, enhancing hotel amenities or creating a new public attraction, the spray park will require three essential elements: water, electricity and sufficient drainage. During the initial planning stages it is important to know and understand local public health and safety codes and regulations as they can have a significant influence on decisions made with regards to water usage, feature selection and surfacing.

Water

In recent years, public health authorities have become more actively involved in establishing water quality standards for spray parks. There may also be environmental restrictions on water usage that can affect the overall design. Even if specific standards do not exist, the spray park should be designed in a manner that makes efficient water consumption a priority.

Today’s environment supports three main water management options:

  1. Potable, drain to waste systems: Public water sources are used to feed the features in the park and water is drained to the storm/waste water system. This is a low-cost option for small spray parks with low-water usage. It ensures a high-quality water source at all times and reduces health risks.
  2. Water treatment/recirculating systems: Water is drained into a holding tank, treated, and then reused in the park. This is a more expensive option, but the best solution for larger parks or areas with strict water policies. Many jurisdictions are mandating the use of a water treatment system and have established health codes to which these systems must meet to be approved. The size and cost of a treated water system will vary depending on the size of the spray park, the number of features and their relative water flow rates. Usage expectations for the park and the type of disinfection required (e.g. chlorine only, chlorine plus ultraviolet [UV] light, CO2, etc.) also play a factor in the cost. This is currently the most common form of water management in the spray park industry.
  3. Retain and reuse systems: Greywater (wastewater generated from domestic activities, e.g., laundry, dishwashing and bathing) is collected and utilized for other applications such as irrigation, washroom facilities and street cleaning. Retain and reuse systems are a relatively new concept. They are specifically designed for each unique environment and take into consideration the volume of water that will be captured, the amount that can be practically reused and the best distribution method.

Implementation of a water treatment/recirculating system or a retain-and-reuse system requires advance approval from local public health authorities. Most suppliers will work with the designer to provide the necessary documentation needed throughout the approval process. The time and effort involved in getting approval should be factored into the budget and project timeline.

Today, most spray parks utilize a combination of controllers and activators to sequence the flow of water and to place operation of the park’s features into the hands of bathers. This reduces water consumption, as water only flows when the park is in use, while at the same time it also increases the intrigue and interactivity of the park as kids will try to anticipate which components will spray next.

Before adding a spray park to an existing facility, carefully evaluate the current water management structure to determine if it can even support one. In most cases, the existing pumps and filters cannot handle the increased water flow as water management for a spray park differs from many other applications.

For example, an existing facility may not be able to accommodate the addition of a spray park due to the absence of a manifold or collection tank. Another reason may be a slow turnover rate (e.g. water must be turned over every 30 minutes in a spray park versus every three to four hours in a pool). Understanding these considerations in the early planning stages will avoid unpleasant surprises and budget increases as the project progresses.

Considering water usage is critical in the planning stage, it is also important to understand the water’s source. Does the 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. Keep in mind, the typical size of a supply line for a spray park is 51 to 102 mm (2 to 4 in.) in diameter with a static pressure of 0.52 MPa (75 psi).

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