FOX 5 began investigating the water waste after a viewer reported that the sprinklers at Morley Field were running during the wettest July weekend on record. Josh Wert says he watched the sprinklers water the grass at the park for at least 20 minutes during Saturday's downpour.
Tim Graham with the Park and Recreation Department sent a written reply to inquiries by FOX 5 which said:
"As you know, irrigation to City parks is typically turned off for 48 hours after significant rain events like we had this past weekend. The irrigation was programmed by the central irrigation control system to be in 'rained off' mode and was programmed not to irrigate the grass this weekend. In fact, the system is only supposed to irrigate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the system isn't programmed to run on Saturday or Sunday at any time. With that in mind, early indications point to a possible electrical short or malfunction with this particular controller at Morley Field due to the storm of some type of power outage. We are looking to further assess and repair the problem. Programming for irrigation in the park remains in “rained off” mode today because of the rain we received over the weekend."
That response did not satisfy Wert.
"It seems to me the common theme in the city is there's no action until us citizens, their employers, actually speak out and make them do it," said Wert. He said he was especially frustrated because a city worker was at Morley Field when the sprinklers were on.
"If I could see it and he's fifty yards away. Of course he could see it. He just didn't feel the need to take care of it," said Wert.
Just this month, the city announced using irrigation systems isn't allowed the day it trains, or for at least two days after. Those are restrictions put in place because of the record drought.
"It's disconcerting. The city is always pushing the guidelines on us to push back on stuff and when you walk around the city, they're not leading by example so it's a shame," said Wert.
FOX 5 reached out to San Diego City Council Member Todd Gloria's office too. He also issued a written statement saying:
"The city has made efforts to decrease its water use while we enacted tough regulations on how San Diegans use water. I don't know all the details of Saturday's sprinkler issue in Balboa Park, but it's clear we must circle back with all our properties and facilities to ensure no water is wasted."