Playground Sprinklers Will Turn Off After 2 Minutes Under New Timer System

By Nigel Chiwaya and Tom Liddy  on August 9, 2012 12:59pm

GLENDALE — The city unveiled a plan to add two-minute cutoff buttons to limit water flow at more than 400 playground sprinklers across the five boroughs as part of an initiative to save water.

Under current rules, playground sprinklers run nonstop from the time parks open until the time they close, spouting more than 4 million gallons of water a day, according to sources.

Under the $6 million Department of Environmental Protection program, stations will be installed about 10 feet away from each of the sprinklers with buttons that kids can press to activate the water.

The button turns the shower on for two minutes after which the water shuts off, officials say. 

The timers and activation buttons, which will be installed over the next several years, will ensure that the showers are activated only when in use, officials say.

Joined by children from the Los Battalion Hall summer camp, DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland  unveiled the initiative with Parks Department comissioner Adrian Benepe at Glendale playground Thursday, one of two parks — out of the city's approximately 600 — that have already received the retrofitting.

Parents applauded the idea, even if it meant they would be reaching for the spray button every few minutes.

"I think it's a very good idea," said Kimberly Shaw, 22, who lives in Glendale. "It's great that when nobody's here it shuts off."

And Felicia Nunez, 55, said: "in some ways it's a hassle, but overall it's better."

According to Strickland, the move is expected to save 1.5 million gallons of water a day, which winds up in the city's sewer system or goes directly into surrounding waterways when it rains heavily.

Each spray shower uses 7,000 gallons of water a day. With the retrofittings, the city expects to save 80 percent, or about 5,600 gallons of water a day from each of the sprinklers.

And the buttons will also eliminate the need for parks employees to turn on sprinklers every morning, Benepe said. Now, parents or children will be able to turn the water on at will.

The water features at  J.J. Byrne playground on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.
The water features at J.J. Byrne playground on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

Only a handful of playgrounds use recycled water and sources said that the proposition of converting the rest of the city's system was too expensive.

The installations are part of the city's Water for the Future program, which aims to reduce water use by 5 percent as repairs are made to the city's water tunnels.

Still, Strickland said the sprinklers represent less than one percent of the city's daily water use.

Officials said that 23 sprinklers will receive the overhaul by next summer and the rest of the work will be completed by 2017.

In addition, Strickland said the DEP is in talks with the New York City Housing Authority to bring a similar program to playgrounds on city housing property.

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