Keesler’s splash pad—good to the last drop

  • Published
  • By Lisa Campbell
  • 81st Force Support Squadron
It didn't take long for the Marina Park Splash Pad to become the "hot spot" for Keesler's youth and families. As the days grow warmer, the cooling water play area typically hosts 30-50 people at any given time. Not only is it a refreshing escape from the humidity and heat, but also an environmentally and economically friendly addition to the 81st Force Support Squadron.

The Splash Pad was originally designed to be a salt or chlorine recirculating water system. After exploring the various environmental and health issues associated with such a system or using fresh water and draining it into the storm water system or Biloxi Back Bay, Keesler's team of experts from the 81st Infrastructure Division, 81st Force Support Squadron, PAE Civil Engineering and Environmental Offices, Bioenvironmental Engineering and Base Safety all had concerns.

With the Splash Pad discharging 50 gallons a minute, not only was drainage an environmental hazard, it was a prime example of water waste. So the team put their heads together seeking a better solution or location to drain the water. Andy Marasca, PAE Engineering Services supervisor and splash pad project manager, redesigned the splash pad into a fresh water system that would utilize water from Keesler's water supply and drain into the Bay Breeze Golf Course reservoir where it will then be used for irrigating the golf course.

The new design required installation of approximately 4,800 feet of pipe and a pump to carry the water to its new location. Water not utilized by the greens will eventually settle back into the aquifer from where it was originally pumped.

"It really was a great idea," said Susan Chamberlain, PAE community planner, "not only does it save money and reduce water use at Keesler, it also reduces energy use that would have been needed to run the recirculating pumps."

The Bay Breeze Golf Course is already feeling the benefit of this new addition. Since the Splash Pad opened in April they've spent zero dollars filling the reservoir with water for irrigation purposes and anticipate even greater reward following the hot, dry spells typically seen during the summer months.

Parents are happy about the water system too. The benefits of a splash pad that uses drinking water means a safe, chemical-free environment for kids of all ages.