Splash pads are becoming increasingly popular in neighborhoods of all sizes across the United States as a cheaper and safer alternative to the traditional community swimming pool. Installing splash pads in new or existing city parks brings a community both social and economic benefits.
Whether visitors to splash pads live in an area or travel there to visit the splash pad park, they bring revenue into a community. Visitors may eat at restaurants, go to theaters after a long afternoon at the park, or fill their gas tank before going home, all valuable revenue sources for a community. When planning a splash pad installation, there’s also the option to charge admission or parking fees, providing additional income that can be used to maintain park amenities or be used on future expansions and other community projects.
Besides the economic benefits and added appeal to a neighborhood, splash pads also benefit a community socially. Children will have the opportunity to get physical exercise while keeping cool during hot summer months and socializing with other children. Socialization skills are essential to childhood development and prepare them for healthier interactions throughout their lifetimes. Providing a fun and safe environment for children may help coax even the shyest child out of their shell, improving their social skills and allowing them to make friends. If families visit the same city park frequently with their children, they’ll likely start recognizing familiar faces and becoming more friendly and outgoing with their new friends.
Splash pads offer more significant cost benefits than a community swimming pool, saving money and resources and adding value and interest to an existing park.
Construction and Installation Costs
The initial construction and installation costs for splash pads are typically much less than a traditional swimming pool and allow communities the opportunity to add interest and attract visitors to existing parks. If added to an existing park with amenities such as restrooms and pavilions, the cost-benefit is even higher, as communities may not need to build additional facilities.
Maintenance and equipment operating costs are significantly lower than swimming pools, especially in a pass-through type system that doesn’t use filters, pumps, or chemicals.
Operating costs are generally much lower than swimming pools. There are two main types of splash pads:
- Pass-Through: A pass-through splash pad system uses potable city water that drains directly to the city sanitation system and therefore doesn’t require a worker to monitor water use and operations. The main cost associated with operating a pass-through system is potable water use.
- Recirculating Systems: Recirculating splash pad systems use a holding tank to collect and treat water, filtering the recycled water before pumping it back out to the spray nozzles again. Recirculating uses significantly less water than a pass-through system but requires scheduled water monitoring and adjustment of chemicals, making it more expensive in that regard.
What Makes Splash Pads So Popular?
Beaches and swimming pools can become very crowded, and in places where there aren’t any beaches, splash pads provide the same cooling-effect of water in a safer environment that generally won’t need a lifeguard unless swimming pools are incorporated into the designs like at a themed park, resulting in less liability. The relatively low installation and operational cost make splash pads an attractive option.
Splash pads can be simple or complex designs, allowing for endless possibilities for themes. Spray elements come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, making splash pads entirely customizable. Designs for a themed park can be built on existing themes or recognizable characteristics of an area or region (i.e., pirates, adventures, ships, zoo animals, airplanes, jungles, deserts, beaches).
A variety of surface choices exist. Popular options are the broom finish on concrete, rubber mixed with resin applied to concrete, and even a rubber surface that is poured in place, offering a seamless and flexible surface to increase traction without causing discomfort to bare feet.
High Level of Water Safety
Splash pads offer the same cooling-effect as a swimming pool, and with relatively little standing water, there may not be a need for a full-time lifeguard. Rounded flanges and connection points, designed to minimize pinch-points and stubbed toes, make splash pads an especially great option for parents of young children.
Interactive Play Environment
Providing children with an interactive play environment fosters physical activity and socialization, integral to healthy child development. Splash pads offer exceptional versatility of design and can include multiple spray zones appealing to various age groups, allowing children to play and interact with their peers in a fun and safe environment.
Another advantage of splash pads is that they can be universally enjoyed by children of all physical abilities and equally enjoyed by children who may be in wheelchairs or have other disabilities that make a swimming pool inaccessible or impractical.