Trends Summer 2016 | Page 6


Think a splashpad functions like a simple sprinkler , shooting water in different directions when on and stopping after being turned off ? Wrong ! A carefully calculated series of events take place behind the scenes .

Water sequences are programmed , and interactive features are hydraulically tied together . If one child stops the pressure on a feature by covering the spray nozzle with his or her foot , it influences the pressure on a feature another youngster is playing with .
Splashpad features are not all on at the same time either . “ We try and sequence them around the pad so that it ’ s always a guessing game as to where the water ’ s coming from next ,” Blake Theisen explained . “ Splashpads run in variable time sequences , depending on how we program them , so once a kid activates it , it will start up , and the water flows . It will cycle through all of our features on the pad for six or 10 minutes .”
Theisen programs in four or five sequences “ in the brain of the system ,” and “ once a kids learns that , ‘ OK , the water goes from A to B to C to D ,’ sequence two starts , and it may either reverse it , or it may go A to C to E to B to D . We try to break the monotony of the same sequence every time .”
Splashpads are also designed to partition off areas by age group , often a section for toddlers , another for kids 5 to 8 , and a third for those ages 9 and older .
“ Little kids don ’ t want 20 gallons of water pounding them on the head , but that ’ s what someone who ’ s 10 , 11 , 12 wants to do . They want to have the big soak ,” Theisen said .
– Jennifer Schmidt
The Blue Mound State Park splashpad is one of 18 Theisen and MacDonald have designed in the last nine years . Splashpads , also referred to as aquatic playgrounds , spray parks , and splash parks , have skyrocketed in popularity since the mid-2000s , according to both Theisen and MacDonald . They ’ ve found that many municipal pools were reaching or exceeding their life expectancy , leaving clients debating whether to invest millions of dollars to rebuild their pool or spend a fraction of the cost and install an interactive water feature , which typically has far fewer needs for long-term maintenance , upkeep , and staffing .
“ They are reasonably affordable for a community to construct and to maintain . There aren ’ t as many liability issues associated with them as there sometimes can be for pools . They do not require lifeguards , which can be a cost savings for communities , and they fit into almost any kind of landscape ,” MacDonald said . “ Pool facilities just take a lot more of everything , whereas a splashpad can fit into almost any location in a community .”
When designing splashpads , Theisen and MacDonald consider a host of factors , including parking , ADA standards , shade , location , and proximity to restrooms .
“ All of that comes into play . If this is going into a pre-existing site , we will definitely make sure that there is ample parking and that it ’ s very close to restroom facilities , and potential changing rooms need to be within a couple hundred feet of the splashpad ,” MacDonald said .
Different regulations are associated with different types of splashpads . In a “ flow-through ” system , water is pumped into the splashpad and either drained into the community ’ s storm system as wastewater or repurposed for irrigation . A “ recirculating system ” involves filtering and disinfecting water before its redistributed back into the splashpad features . This type of system is regarded as a pool by the state – thus bringing more regulations .
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