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October 24, 2014

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Wet ’n’ mild: Your guide to Southern Nevada splash pads

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Kyle B. Hansen

Children play in the water at the splash pad at Madeira Canyon Park during the park’s grand opening in 2009.

If you’re a parent in the valley, summertime likely means frequent trips to a splash pad, those mini water parks that offer children a quick, easy way to cool down from the heat.

Local families have plenty to choose from: parks and recreation departments in Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Clark County oversee more than 60. Most are in parks and are open during the year’s hottest months. City officials keep them dry the rest of the year.

Locations of splash pads

LAS VEGAS

• All-American Park, 1551 S. Buffalo Drive

• Angel Park, 241 S. Durango Drive

• Bob Baskin Park, 2801 Oakey Blvd.

• Bruce Trent Park, 8851 Vegas Drive

• Centennial Hills Park, 7101 N. Buffalo Drive

• Douglas A. Selby Park, 1293 N. Sandhill Road

• Estelle Neal, 6075 Rebecca Road

• Gilcrease Brothers, 10011 Gilcrease Ave.

• Justice Myron E. Leavitt and Jaycee Community Park, 2100 E. St. Louis Ave.

• Lorenzi Park, 3333 W. Washington Ave.

• Patriot Community Park, 4050 Thom Blvd.

• Polly Gonzalez Memorial Park, 5425 Corbett St.

• Rainbow Family Park, 7151 W. Oakey Blvd.

• Raptor Play Park in Thunderbird Family Sports Complex, 6105 N. Durango Drive

• Rotary Park, 901 Hinson St.

• Sunny Springs Park, 7620 Golden Talon Ave.

• Stupak Park, 300 W. Boston Ave.

• Teton Trails, 7850 N. Bradley Ave.

• West Charleston Lions Essex Parkm, 600 Essex Drive

• Winding Trails Park, 7250 N. Fort Apache Road

• Woofter Family Park, 1600 Rock Springs Drive

CLARK COUNTY

• Alexander Villas Park, 3620 Lincoln Road

• Charlie Frias Park, 5250 W. Tropicana Ave.

• Duck Creek Park, 8650 Pollock Drive

• Exploration Peak Park, 9600 S. Buffalo Drive

• Joe Shoong Park, 1503 Wesley St.

• Maslow Park, 4900 Lana Drive

• Molasky Family Park, 1065 E. Twain Ave.

• Mountain Crest Park, 4701 N. Durango Drive

• Paul Meyer Park, 4525 New Forest Drive

• Pebble Park, 8975 S. Topaz St.

• Red Ridge Park, 7027 S. El Capitan Way

• Ridgebrook, 3600 Ridgehollow Drive

• Somerset Hills Park, 10717 Valencia Hills St.

• Spring Valley Community Park, 7600 W Flamingo Road

• Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road

• Winchester Park, 3130 McLeod Drive

HENDERSON

• Acacia Park, 50 Casa Del Fuego St.

• Amador Vista Park, 1562 Amador Lane

• Esselmont Park, 2725 Anthem Highlands Drive

• Hayley Hendricks Park, 811 Ithaca Ave.

• Hidden Falls Park, 281 W. Horizon Drive

• Madeira Canyon Park, 2390 Democracy Drive

• Mission Hills Park, 551 E. Mission Drive

• Paseo Vista Park, 2505 Paseo Verde Parkway

• Reunion Trails Park, 44 Chapata Drive

• Saguaro Park, 600 Pounds Way

• Heritage Park, 350 S. Racetrack Road

• Bark Park at Heritage Park, 350 S. Racetrack Road (dogs only)

• Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St.

• Wells Park, 1640 Price St.

• Weston Hills Park, 950 Burkholder Blvd.

NORTH LAS VEGAS

• Tropical Breeze Park 1505 E. Tropical Parkway

• Prentiss Walker Memorial Pool, 1509 June Ave.

• Nature Discovery Park 2627 Nature Park Drive

• Nicholas E. Flores Jr. Park, 4133 Allen Lane

• City of North Las Vegas – City Hall, 2250 Las Vegas Blvd. North

• Craig Ranch Regional Park, 628 W. Craig Road

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are elaborate, with waterfalls, pirate ships and whimsical themes. Others are simple — just holes in the ground that shoot cold water. The Bark Park at Heritage Park in Henderson has one for dogs.

Where the water comes from

Water for splash pads comes from the same place that supplies water to your home. Instead of pipes directing the water to your shower or faucet, the water, diverted from Lake Mead, is sent to the splash pad. That means it is just as clean and safe to drink as the water that comes from your tap.

How it gets there

Domestic water lines typically carry too much pressure for splash pads, so water has to be depressurized before it is ready for use. It passes through a backflow device, then a pressure regulator that keeps it flowing in the right direction before it arrives at a manifold. When a parent or child pushes a control button on a splash pad fixture — a water launcher or rain tree, for example ­­— the manifold sends the water to the device. The buttons are powered by a computerized system.

Where it goes next

Once water comes out of a splash pad nozzle, it’s hardly gone forever. Most parks use a flow-through system that drains water from splash pads back into municipal pipes. The pipes send it to a treatment facility, where it’s treated as wastewater and sent back into Lake Mead.

The exceptions: Mission Hills Park in Henderson and Clark County’s Goodsprings Park use a recirculating model, which works like a swimming pool. Water is filtered, chemically treated and prepared for use on-site.

Las Vegas spokeswoman Diana Paul said flow-through splash pads are easier to clean than recirculating ones because water is constantly funneled away.

“In a recirculating system, the cleanup is similar to cleaning a contaminated swimming pool,” she said. “In a flow-through splashpad, you always know the water supply is clean.”

The cost of building a splash pad

The District in Henderson spent $95,000 to build its splash pad. Splash Zone, a private splash pad construction company, charges $70 to $90 per square foot, meaning a basic splash pad might cost $40,000, while a large, high-end one could run $500,000 or more. Several companies also sell splash pad kits online for homeowners to install in their backyards. The kits cost $1,500 to $4,000 or more and include jets, valves, drains and a control box but not piping runs or surfacing materials.

Splash pads aren’t just for kids

A splash pad at the Ontario Science Centre features a hydraulophone, a flute-like musical instrument that uses water jets to produce sound. People can change its tones by interfering with the water flow. An “urban beach” in Dundas Square in downtown Toronto’s business district regularly attracts joggers who want to cool off, while Krasnodar, Russia, features Europe’s largest splash fountain, with streams several stories tall.

Gallons of fun

Henderson splash pads used 32.2 million gallons of water in 2013, enough to fill close to 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Officials hope to reduce splash pad water use by 20 to 30 percent this year. Parks workers already have put conservation measures in place, such as preventing ground effects from splashing higher than six feet and limiting to four the number of fixtures that can be on at a time. Those changes saved 1.5 million gallons of water in one month, said Vince Marker, Henderson’s aquatic facility maintenance coordinator.

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