It can take an awful lot of water to keep green space green.
The city of Spokane unveiled a new agreement Monday between its Public Works Division and Spokane Parks and Recreation that aims to reduce water usage in city parks.
Public Works will give Parks and Recreation $250,000 every year for the next decade to help it invest in new irrigation and water usage strategies, bolstering an effort that has been underway for several years.
Parks and Recreation oversees hundreds of acres of green space across its 87 city parks.
It has saved millions of gallons of water annually with irrigation improvements to Indian Canyon and Esmeralda municipal golf courses, with Downriver next on tap. In 2020, Indian Canyon used 35% less water than prior to the upgrades, a savings of 19.2 million gallons of water.
The proposed memorandum of understanding “expands on work they’ve been doing and work the water department has helped fund,” Marlene Feist, the city’s Public Works director, told the Spokane City Council on Monday.
Earlier this year, the Parks Department completed a renovation of the koi pond in Manito Park’s Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden that is expected to save up to 18 million gallons of water annually.
Parks Director Garrett Jones said the Parks Department plans to hire an irrigation specialist in 2022.
Jones expects his department to continue to look for areas in parks that are less used and return it to natural landscaping, thereby reducing the need for irrigation. He said new irrigation is needed at some parks that are still watered manually .
The Public Works division is responsible for delivering water to the city’s parks, as well as businesses and homes. Its water supply is pulled from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.
City officials are looking to protect the city’s water capacity, particularly when water demand is high during the summer months.
“We want to support projects that not just save water, but also protect capacity in the water system,” Feist said.
Officials hope Spokane Parks will serve as an example for the rest of the community, which they hope will also look to cut back on water usage.
“We want to set the example,” Jones said. “We want to be the leader in the community.”
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