Dr. Leslie Miller with her husband, Bruce, who have lived by Salmon Bay Park for over 21 years. The park is part of a water reduction pilot program this summer that will affect about 150 parks.
At Ballard parks, water reduction pilot has begun
At Salmon Bay Park, the grass is green and full. Kids play on the playground, dogs run around panting and on a warm summer day people will lay their blankets down on the ground and relax.
But a few spots of brown can be seen, too. And as summer continues, visitors may begin to see more of it.
In parks all over Seattle, including Salmon Bay Park in Crown Hill, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation has started testing out a new water conservation pilot program.
Out of 430-plus parks, about 300 are currently irrigated, and about half will be going through reduced watering this summer. Parks says they spend about $1.25 million a year to irrigate parks, according to a press release. At Salmon Bay Park, watering costs between $1,600 and $3,400 per year.
The program is meant to discover how much money Parks can save as well as test out what they can do in case of a drought emergency, should that ever occur in the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Leslie Miller, who has lived by Salmon Bay Park for over 21 years now, is upset with the plan.
The park just got an irrigation system as late as 2008, which cost about $135,000 (this number is not confirmed since funding was part of a larger piece), Galt said.
Miller said that before the system was installed, Salmon Bay Park was brown and not as inviting. Ever since, though, the lawn is green and people have made more use of it, she said.
Having seen both sides, Miller wonders why money cannot be saved elsewhere.
"What is this vision where (green lawn) suddenly is not essential?"
Compared to how much the Pro Parks Levy is -- $146 million -- watering Salmon Bay Park is "just a drop in the bucket," she said. Especially, she said, when compared to how much money is spent on management.
The new irrigation system at Salmon Bay Park, which has 10 or 11 different zones, allows Parks to be more nuanced in its watering, able to reduce or turn off watering in lesser used parts.
Before, the park was watered four times a week for 50 minutes a day, Miller said. The Parks plan will cut that roughly by one day.
"We are reducing, not eliminating, water in certain areas of the park that are less used. We are monitoring the landscape for health and wear so that we can avoid reaching a point where there is any damage to the asset," said Karen Galt from Parks and Recreation. "If browning should occur, we would evaluate whether the situation warrants changes to the irrigation schedule to avoid landscape health issues."
Other parks going through water reduction are Ballard Commons Park, Ballard Corners Park, Loyal Heights Playfield, Ross Playground and Webster Park.
Parks that will receive no irrigation include Baker Park, Marvins Garden and NW 60th Street Viewpoint.
"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.
Comments can be directed to Galt and Seattle Parks at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the Fall, Parks will pull together data and comments from the community to decide whether to continue the program in the future. If it does continue, the program will rotate parks to reduce stress on the lawn.