Bloomfield works to conserve water with HydroTurf, reclamation pond

Hannah Grover The Daily Times
The Daily Times

BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield will be the first city in the country to install a newly developed synthetic turf known as HydroTurf in a median landscaping capacity, according to city and industry officials.

Paul O'Malley, the vice president of sales for Watershed Geo, the manufacturer of HydroTurf, said the product has been tested extensively and was originally designed for drainage ditches and dam spillways.

"It's ultimately an erosion-control system," O'Malley said when reached by phone on Tuesday.

HydroTurf has been installed on lake banks, dam spillways and in other similar environments, but Bloomfield's use of it in the medians is unique, officials say.

The city of Española installed HydroTurf last year at its City Hall, according to Robert Buzzell, Watershed Geo's Field Operations Manager, who was here on Tuesday.

"It's a pretty interesting little product," said Bruce Winters, of Winters Construction, which is overseeing the project.

Winters Construction has installed artificial turf in the past. Winters was impressed by the HydroTurf.

"It's tough," he said. "It's hard. Very durable."

He added that HydroTurf is not the same turf people would find on an athletic field.

The turf is installed using powder concrete that is then sprayed with water, making it so people can't rip up the turf. The concrete also prevents any weeds from growing up through the turf.

The HydroTurf is expected to last 50 years, which O'Malley said is a conservative estimate.

The city ordered a mixture of 75 percent green HydroTurf and 25 percent brown to mimic the natural grass patterns.

Mayor Scott Eckstein said most people will only be able to realize it isn't real grass during the winter when everything else is brown.

The city will install about 5,000 square feet of HydroTurf. The turf costs about $5 per square foot, as compared to the $2 per square foot that grass would probably cost to install, Eckstein said.

While the city may pay more to install it, Eckstein said it will save money on maintenance.

"We know that we're going to save hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money," Eckstein said.

The rest of the median landscaping will be done in the Xeriscape style, with a lot of trees and shrubs, including magnolias, Russian sage, oaks and junipers.

In addition to installing Hydro Turf, the city received $840,000 from the state's capital outlay bill to install a water reclamation system.

When it rains, storm water often collects on South Church Street.

"What we want to do is catch that before it goes back into the (San Juan) river," said Teresa Brevik, the city's special projects manager.

That water will be stored in a pond surrounded by cattails, which help treat the water.

The pond will likely be located north of the water plant off of Calle del Rio, where there is currently a cattail stand.

"It's just kind of an eyesore right now," Brevik said.

The water in the pond will also include treated wastewater from the plant that is usually returned to the river. That wastewater is actually cleaner than the water in the river, Brevik said.

She said the idea of using reclaimed water is not unique to Bloomfield. Cities across the country have implemented the system and "some of the biggest green spaces are made with reclaimed water," she said.

The city will have pumps keeping the water moving in the pond, which will help prevent a large mosquito population from developing.

The water from the pond will be piped to the city medians, where it will be used to water the landscaping. The city hopes to eventually expand the irrigation system beyond the medians.

"Then we don't have to use potable water to water parks and lawns," Brevik said.

Creating potable water requires money for ultraviolet sterilization. The reclaimed water does not have to be put through the sterilization process because the pond treats and cleans the water enough for it to be used on the landscaping.

"I think when you conserve water or you can use recycled water, you're actually saving taxpayers money," Eckstein said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.