A Castlegar resident is questioning what he believes to be excessive watering of the fields at Twin Rivers Park at a time when the city is supposed to be promoting water conservation and stewardship.
Steve Sanders, who lives a block away from Twin Rivers Park, said he visits the park daily and has seen the sprinklers soaking the fields, even while it’s raining.
“Why they can’t have the guy that closes the bathrooms turn the water off when it’s raining, I don’t know,” Sanders said.
“It just seems like mismanagement — there’s actually standing water.”
But Garry Sauer, operations manager with the city’s civic works works department, said there’s good reason for all the watering.
“That field down there, the new soccer field … it gets watered every second day,” he said. “There was a new park area, where we expanded. That area, we’re still experimenting.”
Sauer said he’s been told the area is over-watered, but the area needs to stay saturated as the turf is still new.
Sanders said he’s complained to the city multiple times.
“They gave me a few reasons here and there, like it’s on a timer and there’s nothing they can do about it.”
Sauer said the sprinklers are indeed on a timer that was set for 15 minutes each night, but that was reduced to every second night this week.
“We’ve cut it back and reduced the pressure … we’ve got it down to every second day,” he said.
“We have to monitor that because we don’t want to be burning out the park.”
Sanders, who used to farm on the Prairies, said the city’s irrigation “just seems wrong,” and with the standing water, he’s concerned about mosquitoes.
Sauer said out of 16 parks the city maintains, Twin Rivers is the only complaint they’ve received a complaint about when it comes to watering. He said city workers have to maintain the fields with frequent watering and cutting.
“We’re not going to grow it and let it turn into a hayfield just because kids aren’t playing on it,” he said. “There may be times where we don’t cut it as often, and we’re trying to do that.”
Sanders is concerned the maintenance is actually killing the field.
“The BC Seniors Games are going to be down here this summer and if we get a really, really heavy rain, the field is going to be destroyed.”
Sauer agreed that the city needs to lead by example in water use. Castlegar has been running a recent public relations campaign urging citizens to curb their water use and plans to install more and more water meters in the coming years until all homes have one.
“We’ll be metering our own parks starting this year as well,” he said. “That’s another thing we’re doing on behalf of the city is monitoring our bigger parks.”
Sanders said he’s already measured the watering at Twin Rivers with a gauge he received from the city at the Castlegar Garden and Nature Fest two weeks ago. He determined the city is using 77,000 litres of water each time the sprinklers are on.
“I would guess that’s probably wrong,” Sauer said, who believes the number is too high, but admitted the watering isn’t monitored as it goes on and off automatically.
“When we’re watering, we’re watering in the nighttime, so if we have a broken sprinkler, we don’t send guys out in the night to monitor that.”
Sauer said he appreciates Sanders’ feedback.
“We rely on the public too to let us know these things,” he said.
“I’m happy with his input. We’re going to take care of it like we do our other parks.”