School officials explain puddles of water on artificial turf. Photo by Nancy Lem

Recent evidence of pooling water at night on the So Pas High School’s football field resulted in several people criticizing the district for wasteful and expensive use of watering artificial turf.

In fact, School District officials say the excessive pooling of water was not caused by sprinklers watering the turf but by a broken pipe system that failed in three sections over a period of a month.

South Pasadena Superintendent of Schools, Geoff Yantz, Ed.D., clarified the issue even further.

“Artificial fields are not watered,” the superintendent explained. “The High School stadium artificial field has a water cooling system that is integrated with the irrigation system for the grass baseball field. Alongside this artificial field is an irrigation line that leads to the baseball field. Unfortunately, this line failed in three different locations over a month’s time. The maintenance department watered the baseball field while procuring a replacement part to keep the baseball field from deteriorating and to prevent costly future restoration.”

The criticism focused on excessive pooling of water that was occurring on the westside of the high school football field around the 35-yard line.

“If you happen to be in the vicinity of the track, enter from Diamond (Avenue) and continue walking straight ahead from the one entrance to the track,” said one resident. “When you get to the westside (Meridian) of the track, look for the 35-yard line on the north side of the track. You will see the effects of the water left on the artificial grass and the track itself. A small pool is formed by the water collecting until it dissipates or permeates through the artificial grass.”

Yantz said the district has received the complaints and welcomes the community’s input.

“We also get the complaints,” Yantz said during a recent hour-long interview at the district’s headquarters on El Centro Avenue. “We welcome our residents to contact us. It helps us.”

Yantz explained that when a report is received by a neighbor, community member, or employee, grounds’ crew identify and begin repairs within 12 to 24 hours of the report.

So Pas Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Dave Lubs, explained how the district repaired the broken pipes, also in an email to The Review.

“When the broken irrigation part on the stadium field was initially reported this summer, we immediately diagnosed the problem and began searching for the proper replacement part,” Lubs said. “Unfortunately, the broken part is no longer in production. After a fair amount of research, a compatible part was identified and procured from a supplier in Indio. The subsequent two breaks were repaired immediately.”

Moreover, the district has implemented water conservation measures that have produced significant savings, according to Yantz.

“We are committed to water conservation districtwide,” said Yantz in the email. “The maintenance department’s water conservation measures at the high school have resulted in a 30 percent reduction in water usage from fiscal year 2014-15 to 2017-2018.”

Those measures include replacing all irrigation controllers with Smart Irrigation Controllers, replacing old sprinkler heads as needed, replacing inefficient surface watering with deep soil irrigation for trees, conducting periodic assessments of the irrigation system and, finally, tracking water usage with each billing cycle.  

“Fields are irrigated at night to conserve water and maximize playing time during the day,” Lubs said. “We understand the community’s concerns and welcome reports from those community members who use the facilities during off hours as they serve as an extra set of eyes.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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