Anne-Marije Rook
Golden Gardens Park may grow brown this summer as Seattle Parks and Recreation tries to offset upcoming budget reduction by stopping or reducing watering selected Seattle parks.

Seattle Parks to turn off the water tap on selected Ballard parks

Selected Ballard parks may go brown this summer as Seattle Parks and Recreation tries to offset upcoming budget reductions by stopping or reducing watering selected Seattle parks.

Parks claims they pay about $1.25 million each year to irrigate 300 of Seattle’s 430-plus parks, and think they could reduce costs by reducing water usage.

“Our crews are excited about being able to make a tangible contribution to our water conservation efforts,” said Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams in a press release. “It’s also an opportunity to learn what may happen during drought conditions and to validate the assumptions in our drought contingency plan.”

Parks conducted a study of water consumption over the past five years and evaluated landscape irrigation priorities in case a drought would occur. The results inspired the staff to put together a plan for testing Parks’ ability to cut water consumption without damaging the living assets.

From June through September 2012, Parks plans to stop or reduce watering in selected parks. During this time horticulturists and professional gardeners will experiment with the point to which a living asset can tolerate a lack of water without damage.
"Park users and observers will see some brown grass and some park shrub beds not watered as often as before; crews watering earlier in the day and less frequently at parks not controlled by the automatic system," stated Parks in a press release.

Priority for normal watering will go to athletic fields, specialty gardens, picnic shelters, and newly planted landscapes. Golf course irrigation is managed separately.

In the Ballard area, Parks intends to test their water conservation methods at following parks:

No Irrigation between June and September:

- Baker Park
- Marvins Garden
- NW 60th Street Viewpoint

Reduced Irrigation between June and September:

- Ballard Commons Park
- Ballard Corners Park
- Loyal Heights Playfield
- Ross Playground
- Salmon Bay Park
- Webster Park

Criteria for evaluating the success of the program, which will take place in the fall and winter of 2012-2013, include how the plants fared, how the public reacts, and how much water and money were saved. Parks will have this information when bills come in for the pilot period.
If the pilot is successful, Parks may continue it, rotating sites so as not to put too much stress on a given site.

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