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Conservation keeps our resources from going down the drain

May 9, 2018

A message from Park Board President Andrea Smith

When you see kids keeping cool in a sprayground, do you wonder how much water it takes to keep the sprayground open?

When you watch little ballplayers running the bases in a park, do you dwell on how much money it costs to water the outfield, and whether the watering procedure is efficient?

Most people probably don’t. Metro Parks Tacoma does. As an independent government agency, we must safeguard the public’s interest, in terms of both spending and conservation of valuable resources such as water.

For example, as part of Metro Parks’ overall commitment to sustainability, we pledged in 2015 to reduce Metro Parks water use by 9 percent by the end of 2018. Through upgrades in monitoring and irrigation equipment, turf conversions and by planting more drought-resistant vegetation, we managed to cut our use of water by 9.5 percent in the first year.

Most of our 10 spraygrounds, including Titlow Park’s, treat and recirculate water, so it doesn’t go down the drain. Our high-tech irrigation systems precisely measure the amount of watering needed in different parks based on neighborhood weather conditions. Several years ago, we installed solar hot water systems at the Kandle and Stewart Heights pools. At Stewart Heights alone, that reduced the number of heat units demanded from the natural gas boiler by 45 percent in the first season.


Seven years ago, when I joined the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners, I wasn’t particularly aware of the emphasis Metro Parks puts on efficiency and resource conservation. As a banker immersed in the details of commercial lending, I focused on business principles rather than government obligations. After all, successful businesspeople are always thinking about ways to save money. I don’t think all governments do.

I’m pleased and proud to be part of this forward-thinking organization. We pay attention to the details, in both day-to-day operations and major capital projects, such as Eastside Community Center, scheduled to open later this year. Taxpayers can trust in Metro Parks’ responsible and progressive stewardship. We sincerely value your support.

Park Board President Andrea Smith was elected to a second six-year term in November 2017.