A new water feature at Pine Nursery Park—or overactive sprinklers? | Bent | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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A new water feature at Pine Nursery Park—or overactive sprinklers? 

  • Michael Rich
Today, we received an email from a reader concerned about the use of water at Pine Nursery Park. Michael Rich, an employee of the U.S. Forest Services (whose local office neighbors the park), took a short video that appears to show sprinklers watering large swaths of pavement and creating ponds in landscaped areas.

"I feel that if residents are expected to curtail water usage, our City should also be expected to cut back 10% and be a leader and example of water conservation," he wrote. "The watering of parking lots does not demonstrate this to me as a citizen."

He reached out to the Bend Park and Recreation District and was advised that while the park is trying to establish some new plantings,  watering the parking lot "should not be part of the program."

Read Rich's email to BPRD and the response from Michelle Healey, the district's director of strategic planning and design.

From Michael Rich:

I am an employee at the US Forest Service office and today on my bike ride through the park I observed over watering at the north parking lot of Pine Nursery park. Please see attached video link.


In a recent local newspaper article concerning water usage, it stated:
"Governor Kate Brown recently declared a drought emergency in Deschutes County. Following that declaration, the City of Bend issued a Stage 1 Water Curtailment Alert, encouraging residents—and large water users in particular—to reduce their water usage by 10 percent."

I feel that if residents are expected to curtail water usage, our City should also be expected to cut back 10% and be a leader and example of water conservation. The watering of parking lots does not demonstrate this to me as a citizen.

I believe either replacement of the watering heads or adjusments to their watering application can easily remedy the situation. My preference would be low flow or water conserving heads of some type. On a bigger picture, I would like to see the City's parks (and not just Pine Nursery but all of them) install more xeriscape vegetation and less of the grasses, flowers, shrubs that demand more water. I know that was done with intention directly around Pine Nursery, but such as the parking island example in the video, I find it unfortunate that tax money was spent to install the watering system components for the parking islands, the planted vegetatation and the water consumed by the City, when a xeriscape island model would have zero water consumption cost and less installation cost in the first place.

I have been a huge supporter of the Pine Nursery park since inception and since becoming a "neighbor" at the Forest Service. I enjoy the park often, and have seen the tremendous efforts and changes that do in fact over shadow this complaint. Keep up the great work.

To summarize, as a homeowner and taxpayer within BPRD tax district I would like to see this issue addressed and notified when it has been rectified.

Thank you for your time and attention in the matter.

Michelle Healey responded:

Good afternoon Mr. Rich,

Thank you for taking the time to record the video and send in your thoughts.

We currently have a contractor onsite at Pine Nursery trying to establish new plants as part of the recent construction out there. Plant establishment does require more water up front, but watering the parking lot should not be part of the program. The overall watering needs for those newly planted areas should go down as the plants become established. In the meantime, I’ll ask the Construction Manger to look into what can be done to address the over spraying that you documented.

I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback on xeriscaping too. 

To which Michael Rich replied:
Good afternoon Michelle, Don, et al
Thank you for your prompt replies, I appreciate your answers. I understand new plant establishment requires more water. However, as noted in the video, there is a large puddle forming in the basin of the island. What plant species are we trying to establish that requires +6 inches of standing water?

I understand this may be a one time or project phase oversight, and that this is not a widespread problem throughout the City's parks. However, this is not a first time occurrence I have witnessed in the last 12 years living here. And more importantly, I feel addressing the long term vision of the park's plant species selection for landscaping is an equal concern and that more emphasis towards xeriscape and drought tolerant species be selected.

Don, Michelle, Thank you for taking the time to hear my concerns and replying directly. I appreciate the actions you will take.

Thank you all for your time and consideration. 
We reached out to Bend Park and Recreation but have not yet received a reply.

What's your take? Have you noticed overwatering at other parks or public spaces?

About The Author

Erin Rook

Erin is the Source Weekly's Associate Editor. Before moving to Bend in 2013, Erin worked as a writer and editor for publications in Portland including PQ Monthly and Just Out. He has also written for the Willamette Week, El Hispanic News, Travel Portland, OUT City, Boston magazine and the Taunton Daily Gazette...
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