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You might have seen the Michael Turko report about San Diego Unified installing sprinklers for artificial turf under the new facilities bond. Turko talks to school district representatives about the plan, which they explain is meant to clean and cool off the fake grass.

I called Stuart Markey, who oversees the new facilities bond, to ask about the sprinklers. Each sprinkler system costs about $35,000 to buy and install and San Diego Unified is still deciding where to install them because they may be unnecessary in cooler areas. If the systems are put into all eight new synthetic turf fields, the installation will cost roughly $250,000, Markey and his staff estimated.

The idea may sound weird but Markey argued that it makes sense. It is only meant for hot days or when the turf is dirty. “That synthetic surface is just like an asphalt parking lot,” Markey said. “It retains heat.”

He said turning the system on briefly only costs $32 in water and the artificial fields are replacing real grass that uses a lot more water. Watering a grass field costs $25,000 annually, he estimated.

“This is not a big water waster,” Markey added. “It’s a small cost for the benefit.”

You can learn more about artificial turf and how it heats up from one of our recent Cafe San Diego hosts, Jan Kleissl, here.

EMILY ALPERT

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