California is the midst of the worst drought in recent history. On April 1, 2015, the Governor issued an Executive Order that required California residents reduce urban water usage by a minimum of 25%. This order also included many other mandated requirements that will affect the design of future parks, trails and recreational open spaces.
The CSD planning staff has been working on reducing water use in parks well before the present drought began. A concerted effort has been made to reduce the amount of irrigated turf and incorporate larger planting areas composed of drought tolerant plants in addition to more hardscape areas. The latest park designs contain only about 50% irrigated turf, depending on the size of the park. This compares with parks designed in the 1990s which were almost 90% irrigated turf on average. Planning staff specify drip irrigation and the latest irrigation programming technology, where possible, to reduce run off and evapotranspiration. Designs include planting hydro-zones so that plant usage is matched to the irrigation design and capabilities to maximize water efficiency.
New Park and Development projects must comply with the City of Elk Grove Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. As part of the Governors Executive Order, this Ordinance is being updated and the revised Ordinance will be in effect by January 1, 2016.
Many CSD park playgrounds have been designed using poured in place resilient safety surfacing. This product uses rubber or thermoplastic to create a clean and colorful safety surface that surrounds the play equipment. Over the years this material has deteriorated rapidly due to sun and heat exposure. It is now clear that the material requires expensive maintenance and constant replacement to keep the attractive appearance and uniform surface integrity it had when first installed. Therefore, the CSD will be designing future parks with Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) for safety surfacing in lieu of the poured in place resilient safety surfacing. EWF is ADA compliant and meets all American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety surfacing requirements. It is economical to install and easy to maintain. The CSD is still committed to maintaining all existing playgrounds with the poured in place products so that all safety requirements are met. Any future installations of the poured in place product will be minimal, used only, in special situations where EWF may not work.