If you’ve been to Salmon Bay Park recently, you may have seen a small sign near the entrance. It says “2012 Water Reduction Pilot Site.” The popular central Ballard park (map here) has been designated as part of a pilot program for water conservation, to the dismay of some Ballard residents.
The lush park is one of nearly 150 parks in the city where Seattle Parks and Recreation has chosen to reduce watering frequency. There are currently about 300 parks in the city that are irrigated each summer, and Karen Galt from Seattle Parks says the site is part of a pilot program to update their water-shortage contingency plan. The city doesn’t currently have a water shortage, but Galt says that’s a good reason to do it now because it allows them to be flexible with how much they irrigate.
Galt says in planning this pilot, they combed through the city’s water usage in parks and found areas where they could cut back, but could still tolerate the reduction. Salmon Bay was chosen, Galt says, because of its natural dense canopy of trees that helps prevent the grass from drying out.
Leslie Miller has lived a block away from the park for 21 years, helped pay for the play structures, and worked hard to get the irrigation system put in at Salmon Bay Park about three years ago. When she came across the sign at the park the other day, she called Galt for more information. She learned that depending on the weather, the park is watered roughly four times a week, for up to 50 minutes at a time. That equates to about $1,600 to $3,000 a year. Galt says the plan is to water about one day less per week to see how the grass responds. She says the last thing they want to do is adversely affect the park, so there is regular monitoring to keep tabs on the experiment. The areas that will be watered less will likely be around the perimeter of the park, or in heavily shaded areas.
Miller is disappointed that Seattle Parks has designated Salmon Bay for the project, and is working with Galt to determine where the park could afford to go a little brown. “It’s unique, it’s nice and cool, there are lots of kids,” says Miller.”I don’t understand why they can’t spend an extra $1,000 to keep it beautiful.”
Galt and Seattle Parks welcomes community feedback on the pilot program. For comments or questions about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
(Full disclosure: Leslie Miller is a sponsor of My Ballard)