City explains why sprinklers were likely on during storm

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SAN DIEGO -- City officials say an equipment malfunction may be the reason that sprinklers at a San Diego park were spraying the grass during a rainstorm over the weekend.

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."


  • Wert is right! City council is woried more about wasting resources on a chargers stadium!

    Wert is right. There is the appearance the city doesn’t are or hasn’t given the proper motivation to employees how important it is to conserve. They are forthcoming with excuses and political answers amounting to wordy nothingness. Really, Ask the employees where they can report water waste….Bet no one knows or really cares. Insult to injury….check out the bathrooms in county buildings and you will find malfunctioning faucets and flushers wasting water. If the city really cared there would be employee training how to report water problems, Dedicated tracking for reported for city water wasting issues, and hotline posters everywhere.

  • Wert is right! City and county officials "Talk the Talk" don't "Walk the Walk"

    Bet they can find the posters for OSHA, Sexual Harassment, and information or when the next Chargers meeting will be! They don’t care! They want to deliver the smack down to their constituents and not shore up water infrastructure!

  • caroline

    I drive by this patk Mon- Fri and many mornings I notice these sprinklers are on. Including twice before while it was drizzling. I was happy to see someone pointed it out and it was on the news this morning since i had meant to say something myself. Thanks

  • John

    Wait…you’re telling me the city can water three times a week, but us citizens can only water twice a week? If you’re going to try and help this drought, lead by example! In addition, you’re now going to ask for rate hikes when we’re all conserving? Forgot I’m talking about the government…

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