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Frequently Asked Questions: Water Use in City Parks and Gathering Spaces

Get your questions on water use in city parks and gathering spaces answered here:

Parks | Camelback ParkQ.  How does the city manage its parks' irrigation water use?
The City has 45 Parks with 580 acres of landscape to maintain. The City uses a centralized irrigation system to maximize its water use efficiency. This system uses information obtained from local weather stations to help determine what amount of irrigation water is necessary for plant health. The Parks Department has successfully implemented water-saving techniques and has reduced its water use by 2.0 billion gallons from January 2001 to December 2012. Back to top

Q. I realize the parks are using irrigation water wisely, but how else do you save money?
Fortunately, our largest parks located along Hayden Road, can receive raw Salt River Project (SRP) water for irrigation purposes. Raw SRP water is non-treated water that is relatively inexpensive when compared to treated (i.e. drinking) water. Raw SRP water is the same type of water that is supplied to citizens who receive flood irrigation through contracts with SRP

Scottsdale also utilizes reclaimed water at the Scottsdale Sports Complex, located at 8081 E Princess Dr, and at Rotary Park which is located at 7960 E Doubletree Rd. This is the same type of water used on approximently two dozen of Scottsdale’s golf courses. Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater that has gone through cleaning by multiple technologies to produce water that can be used for irrigation purposes. It can be purchased at a reduced cost and is used by the parks and golf courses that, via a partnership agreement, paid for the infrastructure to deliver this type of water. Back to top


Q. Does the city put in winter ryegrass? Why?
The city has stopped overseeding for winter ryegrass to save water and money, except in some cases where Scottsdale has a contractual agreement. One place is Scottsdale Stadium. The baseball fields, which are considered active recreational areas, are used primarily in the winter and are an appropriate place for winter ryegrass. The stadium events bring many people to the downtown area.

Parks | Irrigation of MallCivic Center Mall is another location where we maintain winter ryegrass. The Mall is a gathering space for over 130 outdoor events  each year. This area provides 185,550 sq2 of turf and hosts large events such as Culinary Festival, fall and spring arts festivals, Greek Festival, Sunday A’Fair, Native Trails, and various concerts and weddings which bring over 157,000 people to the downtown area. Back to top

Q.  Why does park irrigation sometimes run during the daytime?
There are a variety of reasons that you may see irrigation running during the day. The most common reason is due to the way irrigation systems are set up. Irrigation systems run one valve (a section of grass/landscape) at a time. Some of our parks are so large that it takes up to 12 hours to run through all of the valves. You also may see irrigation running during the day if irrigation technicians are performing preventive maintenance to check for broken and misaligned sprinkler heads.

Parks | Valve LevelingAnother common reason for daytime watering has to do with plant health. Often times, plants require additional irrigation during the day, even after the irrigation system has run its regular schedule. For example, establishing winter ryegrass (due to contractual agreements) or new grass typically requires more frequent watering, which includes daytime watering. We also find that some areas of turf are under stress due to high use and may need extra water to recover.

You also may see water use during the daytime at some of our active recreational areas. Sand-based soils were used to build some of our parks’ baseball and soccer fields to help prevent injuries to athletes. These fields may need to be irrigated at the end of the day during the hot summer months to help fields recover from high use and in preparation for special events.

Remember, the Parks Department only maintains about fifty percent of the greenbelt.  The rest of the greenbelt is private golf courses who are responsible for the maintenance and irrigation of their properties. Back to top


Q.  Why are the sprinklers running when it is raining/has rained outside?
  The sprinklers are run by a computerized control system. This system can shut off the sprinklers during rain events. However, some sprinkler systems could not be incorporated into the computerized control system and have to be turned off manually. Scottsdale does try and turn off these systems manually during rain events whenever possible.

Additionally, when there is a fast and heavy downpour, water doesn’t always have the time it needs to be absorbed into the soil and runs off the landscape, especially on slopes. Since plants do best when they are watered deeply and infrequently, the landscape may still need irrigation water to supplement the rainwater for optimal plant health. Back to top


Q.  What if I see a problem and want to report it?
  We appreciate it when customers notify us of irrigation concerns. Problems such as broken or misaligned sprinkler heads are good examples of what should be reported. Whenever possible, please tell us the day of the week, time of day, and the location of the irrigation problem to help us make the repair more quickly. Back to top


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