The splash pad at Westermeier Commons in Central Park will soon switch from well water to water provided by Carmel Utilities in an attempt to save money in the long term.
When the splash pad was built in 2016, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation officials decided to use well water to avoid costs associated with purchasing water from a provider and to create a large “naturalized recirculating system,” according to CCPR Director Michael Klitzing.
“At the time, it was all good intentions,” Klitzing said. “The recommendation from our consultants was this seems to be a green-friendly process from an environmental standpoint, and we thought it was going to provide savings.”
But that didn’t turn out to be the case. The high iron and mineral content in the well water has created rust stains and algae buildup, which can cause slippery conditions. CCPR employees must power-wash the splash pad weekly to address the problem, and it must be repainted every two years for approximately $24,000 to cover up stains.
Another expense not factored when the splash pad was built is an Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management requirement to perform weekly tests on the well, which also serves the restrooms and drinking fountain, to ensure the water is potable. CCPR staff members spend 15 to 20 hours a week managing the well at a cost of $15,000 per season.
The CCPR board voted July 14 to pay Noblesville-based Dorsey Excavating up to $127,250 to complete the project, which includes 370 linear feet of pipe, tapping into the Carmel Utilities water line at College Avenue, disconnecting and capping the existing pipe connection to the well and other work. If Carmel Utilities approves poly water pipes instead of iron ductile pipes, the project cost will be reduced to $90,000. CCPR originally estimated the project would cost less than $50,000.
CCPR expects to spend approximately $15,000 per year to purchase water from Carmel Utilities for Westermeier Commons.
Klitzing, who was CCPR’s chief operating officer when the splash pad was built, said he doesn’t know if CCPR officials researched the effectiveness of using well water at splash pads in other park systems before committing to it in Carmel. He said CCPR has successfully used well water in parks for irrigation.
Klitzing said the project will likely take place in late summer or early fall. If the splash pad is still open for the season at the time of the project, he expects the project could lead to a closure for a couple of days. The splash pad usually closes for the season between Labor Day and the end of September.
CCPR uses Carmel Utilities water at its other two splash pads at Inlow Park and West Park. Klitzing said the two splash pads on city water require much less maintenance.
“The splash pad features (at Westermeier Commons) are not as crisp and clean as Inlow Park, which is a much older splash pad,” he said.