Parks limits spray showers

Photo by Yinghao Luo
By Steve Mosco

Wasting water became a practice of the past at a playground in Glendale.

In a citywide effort to reduce water consumption, the city Department of Environmental Protection teamed up with the city Parks Department to retrofit the playground’s spray shower with a two-minute cutoff button to limit water flow — the first of 400 to be retrofitted across the five boroughs.

“Water is one of the city’s most precious resources and it’s important that we conserve it wherever we can while also enhancing opportunities for New Yorkers to enjoy water outdoors,” said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland, from the Glendale park on Central Avenue, last week. “By retrofitting spray showers at playgrounds throughout the five boroughs, we will improve sewer capacity and reduce waste.”

According to Strickland, the $6 million DEP project will ensure the showers will spray cooling water only when they are in use. Without timers and reactivation buttons, Strickland said the showers use close to 7,000 gallons of water per day, but the addition of the retrofits is expected to reduce that consumption by 80 percent, or 5,600 gallons per day.

After all 400 spray shower timers are installed by 2017, officials believe citywide water consumption will drop by 1.5 million gallons per day. Currently, some playground sprinklers run nonstop from morning until night.

The reactivation stations will be installed about 10 feet away from the sprinklers with activation buttons youngsters can press to activate the showers. The water will turn off automatically after two minutes.

A second spray shower timer was also installed at Maple Playground in Flushing ahead of the citywide launch.

The timed spray showers were developed through the Municipal Water Efficiency Program, an interagency partnership to implement water conservation strategies in city-owned facilities.

“The Parks Department is pleased to partner with DEP to promote sustainability through green infrastructure and water conservation,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The installation of timers at spray stations across New York City will conserve water and reduce the amount of runoff that enters our sewers, helping to prevent sewer overflows and water pollution during heavy rains.”

Both Benepe and Strickland said the effort to reduce water consumption citywide is part of a broader effort to ensure clean, reliable drinking water for residents. Dubbed the Water for the Future program, it is a $2.1 billion initiative that will repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct — which supplies roughly half of the city’s daily drinking water needs — and supplement the city’s water supply during the temporary shutdown of the aqueduct during repairs.

According to a DEP timeline, the aqueduct will be temporarily shut down between 2020 and 2021 while crews plug the leaks.

“This program is a small step toward preparing ourselves for that shutdown,” said Strickland.

But there was little concern for that shutdown among the children of the Lost Battalion Hall Recreational Center in Rego Park, who came to Glendale to cool down while conserving water.

“I love going in the water,” exclaimed Shifa Lalani, 9, of Maspeth. “And we need to save the water because we need to drink it, too.”

And with that, Lalani joined the rest of the children to lead Benepe and Strickland — both in shirts and ties — through the spray shower for a soak.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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