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Flow-through design approval sets stage for spray park in Rosemont neighbourhood park

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 15th, 2023

A lack of water conservation could not dampen city council’s desire in approving a flow-through spray park to begin installation this summer at Art Gibbon Memorial Park in Rosemont.

City council approved the design of a flow-through style spray park at its Feb. 14 regular council meeting in council chambers, and accepted the offer of Nelson Rotary Daybreak to fund up to $190,000 of the cost of the park.

When the idea for a spray park feature in Art Gibbon park was first floated out the notion of a recirculating spray park was embraced by council since it would use far less water than a flow-through spray park.

However, council asked staff to compare and contrast the re-circulating park and the flow-through park’s installation and maintenance costs. City director of Engineering, Capital Works and Special Projects, Colin Innes, said the re-circulation design worked well in parks with a big water footprint.

“(G)oing to a recirculating style is something you will really want to do because there is so much water required to use those big features,” he said. “With the park we are talking about it’s a very good park, but it’s not that big of a footprint park. It’s not that destination park where everybody is going to it strictly for a waterpark.”

Unfortunately, large features also have large footprints, which limits the ability of this style of features to be implemented on this small site, Innes added.

And water treatment would have to be considered for the site, he continued. The added complexity of adding water treatment means it will take more staff time in order to operate it, as well as a lot more capital cost up front in operating the park, Innes said in his report to council.

“A lot of this is based on risk of bacteria-logical pathogens that can be in the water, as well as the amount of staff time and cost that it takes to operate a park that is really a small water treatment plant,” Innes said.

Coun. Rik Logtenberg wondered if the flow-through park would stress the already labouring water treatment plant and make it ineffective much quicker than has been predicted.

“In a tipping point scenario, it is so significant that it could factor into that, this (flow through) could, in effect, be millions of dollars and forcing us to deal with the plant earlier than later,” he said.

The water treatment plant was a non-factor because it needed to be upgraded anyways, Innes replied, and it did not shrink the timeline for the plant to be upgraded sooner.

Coun. Jesse Woodward hoped that city staff could dig in a little deeper and discover how to use the water.

“It feels like we are just chucking away amazing, clean water that we have spent money cleaning at our water treatment plant,” he said. “My request would be to dig in a little deeper as to how the city could use the water.”

A recirculating park uses approximately 20 per cent of the water used by a flow through park. Although a flow-through park has the potential of using a greater amount of water than a recirculating park, the city has the ability to limit the amount of water used though use of “soft controls” such as implementing water restrictions.

“It just feels like having a flow-through park goes against a lot of what we are trying to do in the last five to eight years in the city,” Woodward explained.

Innes said the city could dig deeper on the subject, but was unsure of the timeframe for when the information would be required.

Nelson Rotary Daybreak worked with a spray park supplier to create a conceptual design of a spray park that would suit the area available for the park in Rosemont. The conceptual design includes five above grade features and three ground sprays.

Staying local

A recirculating park utilizes a water treatment system to treat and recirculate water within the spray park. City staff would be operating a water treatment system that is similar to the treatment systems required for a pool.

Because the treatment system will be not be in use for a large segment of the year, issues such as gaskets and seals drying out could result in requiring the replacement of some of these parts annually.

Electricity, treatment chemicals, filter cartridges, pump maintenance, lab tests and potable water to top up the reservoir tank represent ongoing operating costs. Additionally, there will be gaskets and seals that require replacement.

The estimated annual operating cost for a recirculating park is estimated as $56,500. The estimated capital cost of building a recirculating park is $425,000.

Flow-through park

A flow through park is a conventional spray park design that utilizes potable water and discharges the used water to the sanitary sewer.

The park would utilize a simplified system. There is significantly less operational burden with a flow-through park. City staff would need to assess the spray feature nozzles and actuators once or twice per week to ensure the equipment is operating correctly.

Electricity and potable water are the primary operating costs associated with a flow-through facility. It is estimated that the annual operating cost of a flow-through park is $63,400.

The estimated capital cost of building a flow-through park is $195,000.

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