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Virginia Highlands Sprayground Won’t Open Until 2013

by ARLnow.com March 23, 2012 at 11:18 am 4,705 46 Comments

The proposed sprayground at Virginia Highlands Park is behind schedule and likely will not open until next year.

County officials say the project schedule has been extended while they take “some additional measures to ensure cleaner water enters the storm sewer from the sprayground.” That may be a disappointment to residents who were hoping to have a new place for their kids to cool off this summer.

We reported in 2010 that the sprayground — the county’s most elaborate water park yet — was originally scheduled to open by Memorial Day 2012. Now, we’re told, the county hopes to begin construction late this summer, which will allow the sprayground to open on Memorial Day weekend 2013.

  • When in operation, how many gallons of water does the ‘sprayground’ typically use a day?

    • CJ

      Really good question and one that should be answered before we build yet another sprayground in Arlington.

      The water used at the spraryground has to be treated as drinking water and then processed through the sewage treatment plant — not quite a sustainable project for a county that claims to be a model of green living.

      • drax

        The water doesn’t go to the sewage treatment plant, at least not at existing spraygrounds. It goes into the storm drain.

  • nunya

    sprayground sounds so nasty.

    • nom de guerre

      Especially if cats are involved. But that would make it sustainable. Hmmm.

      • awh hells bells

        The two above posts merit a ‘two thumbs fresh’ rating. How butthurt would mothers who bring their kids to these hypervanity projects if I let my dog run around trying to bite the water spouts as they came up?

        • drax

          Bring your dog. It would be fun. You might even relax too.

          • awh hells bells

            Go organize a running event.

          • drax

            No way – too much work.

  • WeiQiang

    Seriously. The County can’t complete the tennis court lighting project at VA Highlands … the work site has been dormant for a year … but they expect to make this work?

    The area where the spraypark is expect to go would be much better used for a dog park.

    • nom de guerre

      No offense, but my post that was 8 minutes before yours suggested that it be used for cats.

      • WeiQiang

        Aren’t there ENOUGH cat parks in ArlCo already???

  • CourthouseChris

    It makes me happy that the kids of Arlington have these. There was nothing like this when/where I grew up. The kid in me totally wants to go play there – but something tells me the adult male wrapper that that kid comes in would not be welcome. Ohh well.

    • GreaterClarendon

      Unfortunately, the county has cut the hours of the sprayparks water elements since they could not find $20K in the budget to keep them open during regular hours. Not sure how it is during weekdays, but if I recall, it is only a couple of evenings per week, and on weekends, the hours are such that water is only on during the hottest part of the day – a time when most toddlers / youths are napping. Useless county board screwing over families for vanity projects being funded to the tune of million$.

      • You Poor Dear

        The county is screwing your family over by limiting hours of spraygrounds? The deprivations you must endure! Every family has a constitutional right to spraygrounds, 24-7.

    • Casey

      Rent a kid for a day, you can get away with any childlike behavior if you have a lil one in tow!

    • KARLington

      For pete’s sake, we did have this kind of thing…it was called “playing in the sprinkler.”

      But yeah, I’d be careful to keep the wrapper on around playgrounds.

      • drax

        Hard to play in the sprinkler when you live in an apartment.

    • Just the Facts

      I don’t like the idea of an “adult male wrapper” anywhere near a spraypark.

  • SomeGuy

    As long as it’s not the *canine* water park schedule that’s in jeopardy, all is still well in the county.

    • WeiQiang


  • DarkHeart

    Is there a link to the original document the picture came from?

    • bobco85

      I did not find the original document, but found a page on the Arlington County website that has contact information and the concept art for the sprayground project: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/parksrecreation/scripts/planning/parksrecreationscriptsplanningindesign.aspx

      Also, I did not know that there are currently 3 spraygrounds already in Arlington (Drew Playground, Hayes Park, and Lyon Village), which I think are pretty cool!

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        The spray parks are great things – I have certainly made good use of them.

      • DarkHeart

        Thx. I was hoping to read more about the graywater operation. Ran into it once in Arizona when they told me not to eat the ice cubes in my golf car cooler.

        • Suburban Not Urban

          I don’t think they are planning on using greywater – they just don’t want to overtax the storm sewer treatment system

          • drax

            There is no “storm sewer” treatment.

            There are sewers, which take water for treatment, and storm drains, which catch rain water and drain it to streams without treatment.

            The splash park water goes to storm drains. It’s like playing in the sprinkler.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Your explanation is more correct than mine(mixing storm sewer and treatment is probably bad) however:

            The system handling the water is often known as a “storm sewer” which is not to be confused with the “sanitary sewer”(AKA sewage)

            I’m not sure here – how much treatment would be on the storm sewer system but at least sometimes there is some – I would think you might have to remove large stuff or oil or something – just not treat it for biologicals etc.

            My main point stands is I believe they sound like they are trying to upgrade the water that will be put in the storm sewer to avoid lowering it’s quality.

          • drax

            “Storm sewer” is just a confusing term, which is why storm drain is now preferred. Of course, in DC and other old cities, you have parts of the system that are combined, which means raw sewage can be dumped in the river during storms.

            Nothing that goes into a storm drain in Arlington is treated. Anything you dump in there, or put on your grass or whatever, goes straight to the river and the Chesapeake Bay.

            But yeah, your main point is right – it seems the sprayground might need either to go down the sewer instead of the storm drain, or go to a closed system that cleans and reuses the water.

  • CW

    Cleaner water entering the storm sewer from the sprayground?

    Arlington tap water + additives + whatever is on kids is worse than rain/tap water + fertilizer + pesticides + vehicle leakage + everything else that makes it into the storm sewers?

    • CourthouseChris

      Yeah I was puzzled by that too.

      • CW

        Better than D.C., I suppose, where they just put up signs saying that sewage may come blasting out into the river or rock creek any time it rains.

        • drax

          Yes, because DC’s really old system combines sewers and storm drains. In Arlington, 100% of what goes down a drain or a toilet goes to a treatment plant while everything outside – including pesticides or fertilizer or whatever – goes straight into the local waterway.

    • Arlingtarian

      And then it all makes its way to the Potomac River – yum!

  • novasteve

    Water is a major greenhouse gas when it evaporates! think of the environment!

    • Josh S

      Back to school for you.

  • Courthouse

    Where is this exactly?

    • Arlingtarian

      In the last open space in Virginia Highlands Park, just across from the Aurora Hills library.

      • CJ

        Can’t wait to see the wet kids sitting on the floor of the library.

  • Arlington Taxpayer

    Sounds like there’s still time to kill this wasteful project. Design and construction alone will cost $550,000 and then we’re stuck funding operations and maintenance for a facility that will only be open for about three months of the year.

    As GreaterClarendon has pointed out, the County has already had to cut the hours of the existing spraygrounds due to shortfalls in the Parks & Rec budget.

    Stop the madness!

    • drax

      The only difference between the sprayground in summer and the rest of the year is they’ll turn the water off.

      The rest of the park will be open as usual.

      You wouldn’t want to close all outdoor pools because they’re only open in summer either, would you? Or all parks because they’re rarely used in winter?

    • concerned citizen

      Yes, the money could be put to much better use. As mentioned above, there are already several parks that the county can’t afford to keep open. This will take some of the last open space in the park.

  • Tries to be Thoughful

    Spraygrounds are awesome. This is exactly what I want my tax dollars going to.

    Having a sprayground in this park will make it more attractive for many people to live in the surrounding neighborhood. My kids absolutely love them and it will be great to have one within walking distance.

    Also, it uses less water to have a whole bunch of kids in one place using a feature where much of the water is reused than it does to have hundreds of kids playing in their yards in sprinklers.

    The point someone made about people in apartment buildings is a really big deal for people who have kids and live there. There is a big apartment building right next to this park and a bunch more within walking distance and many more within distance of the bus.

    It is true that it won’t be spraying year round but for the rest of the year it will be a great place for little kids to ride their tricycles – just like in north Arlington.

    Also, as to the points about the overall budget issues, I’m guessing that many of us here would agree that having great parks and recreation (and libraries) is part of what makes Arlington great. I’d love to see our parks fully funded and not have to squabble about spraygrounds versus tennis lights. I want both! It does seem like the trolley project is super expensive and of questionable value but I don’t know enough about its expected impact and return on investment to yell and scream about it being wasteful.

    The last point I’d like to make about this being worthwhile is our neighborhood has no public pool and there’s nothing even close that I know of. I’d much rather have a public pool than a sprayground, but a sprayground for the kids is better than nothing!

    • dk


    • Grass is Really Greener in North Arlington

      If this is what it takes to make Aurora Highlands more like north Arlington — bring it on!!!

  • Spraygrounds are really refreshing during summer to cool off both mind and body.


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