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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Park sprinklers running in the rain? Is it still April Fools?


(Portland, OR) –

Starting this month (April 2016), Portland Park & Recreation (PP&R) staff will be activating irrigation systems across the city. Part of this process will include adjustments and repairs where workers need to have sprinkler and irrigation systems turned on during the day.

Some of this work on more than 150 automatic sprinkler systems across the city may occur during rainy days, which can strike a casual observer as an unusual sight.  However, PP&R staff must conduct this work now to ensure that all of the city’s park irrigation systems are fully functional for the hot summer months.  PP&R irrigation systems are used on grass at parks and athletic fields, and give plants supplemental water.

Though sprinklers running in the rain may cause one to do a double-take, this is in fact a common and effective industry practice.  In this case, de-winterizing PP&R sprinkler systems during the month of April (and sometimes during March, too) is indeed a normal operating procedure.

Therefore, park visitors may see water flying at all times of the day, even if it is raining. The importance of getting our irrigation systems ready for the upcoming dryer months is crucial to the overall water conservation efforts put forth at Portland Parks and Recreation.

The irrigation systems in our parks sit idle for many months. During this time, the sprinkler heads may lose their alignment, have turf grow completely over them, or be damaged from the elements. To ensure proper operation, systematically each sprinkler zone is activated and thoroughly inspected. This can range from a few minutes to 10 minutes depending on the type of sprinkler and the extent of the coverage. Items staff will check are:

  • That the sprinkler pop-up height clears the surrounding grass.
  • The alignment is perpendicular to the surrounding grade.
  • The sprinkler is operating correctly.
  • The arc and radius are properly adjusted.
  • There are no leaks or seal damage.

 Portland Parks & Recreation staff are committed to safety, efficiency, and the enjoyment of all park visitors.

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