Heads turned last week as the north and south fields at the El Dorado Hills Community Services District’s Community Park turned completely brown, but they’ll be greener and more vibrant than ever after they undergo irrigation infrastructure and turf renovations.
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“Irrigation technologies have come a long way and it’s increasingly important for the EDHCSD to not only capitalize on water-saving improvements, but to set an example for what all businesses and homeowners can do to preserve water,” said EDHCSD Parks and Planning Director Kevin Loewen. “The current drought situation in California is being talked about all around us, but our approach is to go beyond discussing the problem and to take methodical and logical actions that will result in measurable water conservation.”
The fields have historically looked stressed during summer months regardless of watering more, said Loewen.
“This sort of visual assessment of the turf can be useful, but I believe in backing up decisions with data,” he said and ordered an irrigation audit a couple of weeks ago.
“Irrigation auditors discovered a substandard irrigation distribution uniformity measure of 41 percent at the north and south fields,” Loewen said. “Think of DU as how even the water is applied to the target area. You want to be at 100 percent efficiency in everything you do, but the reality is that the irrigation industry standard average for rotor-type sprinklers is 60 percent. What do most people do when there is a dry spot? They water longer! The problem with a low DU is that you may very well water for twice as long as would be needed just to green-up a couple of areas of your lawn.”
By installing new irrigation plumbing and modern sprinklers, Loewen said he anticipates a minimum 60 percent efficiency and potentially upwards of 70 percent.
In addition to infrastructure renovations the CSD is removing the existing grass blend and replacing it with a hybrid type from the Bermuda grass family called Celebration. “This turf type is drought-tolerant, durable and a highly desired option for athletic field play,” Loewen said. “Together the irrigation and turf renovations will reap 35 percent or more in water savings to the project area. A more exact analysis of post-project water savings will be performed and published on the CSD Website.”
Loewen said the 6-acre area turned brown quickly after applying a herbicide.
The perimeter of the fields is fenced for now. The initial turf planting will occur within 60 days and should be ready for use in late August.
The irrigation component is contracted for about $46,8oo and the turf component for nearly $75,800, which includes grading, amending the soil and other site work related to turf planting. The total Capital Improvement Project’s budget is $160,000.