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Dog park closed three weeks for maintenance

ENCINITAS — Since Encinitas opened the Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park, along with the rest of the Encinitas Community Park in January, thousands of four-legged visitors and their two-legged mates have enjoyed the green space.

Apparently, the popularity comes with a price, as city officials announced last week the city’s largest off-leash dog park would be shut down for three weeks to perform maintenance.

The closure runs from April 28 to May 21, and officials said they are necessary to keep the park in tact.

“These maintenance closures are necessary and will ultimately be the deciding factor between a grassy dog park or a dirt lot,” city Spokeswoman Marlena Medford wrote in an email to The Coast News.

The maintenance will include soil conditioning and turf preservation, fencing, irrigation and drainage repairs and odor control, among other things.

The most important aspect of the repairs is the soil conditioning, park officials said, as the hard-packed surface and the use of reclaimed water make it difficult to keep the park lush and green.

“It’s (hard soil) not the best media for plants, or in this case turf grasses.  When soils are heavily compacted, the plant material has a hard time establishing a healthy root structure, getting water (proper infiltration and drainage), oxygen, and nutrients,” city officials said in an email.

“Also, the dog park is irrigated with reclaimed water, which often carries high levels of salt and other dissolved solids, which makes it difficult to keep turf grasses healthy.  To combat the effects of reclaimed water, the soil has to be conditioned,” the email states.

The maintenance will cost $20,000 to $25,000 and will be paid from the $350,000 set aside for annual maintenance of the Encinitas Community Park.

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7 comments

Dan Cohen April 30, 2015 at 2:07 pm

What is the effect of hundreds of dogs urinating thousands of gallons of urine in a small place over the course of a week or a month? Is there a difference between human urine and dog urine? Where does all of this urine flow? Is there any difference if hundreds of people urinated on the ground in the same spot every day? What are the environmental effects of hundreds and hundreds of gallons of urine being deposited into a small space? Anyone?

Franz Deutsch April 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Have you ever seen a dog producing 10 gallons of pee-pee in a day?

Perhaps your issue would gain more interest (and you more credibility) if you didn’t try to sensationalize it by using such big numbers… a little homework would show you that a 5 pound dog will produce 1/4 cup (~2 oz.) of urine in a 24 hour period.

Problem: If a 40-pounds dog produces 2 cups (16 oz.) of urine in 24 hours, and assuming that the dogs will all pee in the same spot throughout the day, how many dogs will it take to produce “thousands of gallons” of urine in the course of a month?

Hint: 1 gallon = 16 cups = 1,280 oz.

I am not sure that these quantities will over-flood the water table below the city, but to your point, if hundreds of people micturated (peed) in the same spot every day, the smell in the neighborhood would definitely be unbearable.

Cheers!

Dan Cohen April 30, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Hi Franz, I didn’t even know that dogs could weigh as little at 5 pounds?! I have owned three labradors over the years all averaging about 70 lbs and boy would those guys let loose with the urine after running down tennis balls between gulping down copious amounts of water. So let’s hypothesize that 80 dogs visit the dog park in a day and the average weight we are dealing with is 40 lbs…and it’s hot…and the dogs are wild dogs playing aggressively & running around like a bunch of pirates, gulping down water, sprinting, pivoting, chasing jumping…are they still only going to pump out or ‘micturate’ (love that one BTW, thanks for sharing it) “2 cups of urine in a 24 hour period?” Even though all of my labs used to pee like racehorses, let’s use your figure and low and behold eighty forty-pound dogs would produce 10 gallons of urine per day or 160 cups. Doesn’t urine kill grass? What else does it kill? What does pumping 10 gallons of untreated urine into our storm drains do to the environment? And on that note since everyone dumps their dog’s dump in the city’s garbage cans, where does all of that rancid excrement actually go?

Aaron Burgin May 1, 2015 at 7:04 am

I think one of the reasons why the ground is 95 percent compacted at the park is to retard the urine from seeping into the water table, meaning it remains at or near the surface…which is partly why they are conditioning the soil.

Franz Deutsch May 4, 2015 at 9:24 am

Good! We are making some progress… now if it takes 80 dogs to generate 10 gallons, your initial numbers are off by a fairly big factor.

Anyway, if we could only focus our energy elsewhere. Why worry about 10 gallons of dog-pee in the storm drains when there are other pollutants that are way more damaging to our health and the environment? For example, any idea on which chemicals are present in common fertilizers commonly used by our beloved cities? We should focus our energy into pushing coastal cities to use organic composted soils and stop using toxic fertilizers.

As far as poop goes, I agree with you: we are not very smart. It was a French scientist that in 1774 said “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” His name was Antoine Lavoisier…Again, a little research will show creativity and science at work on how to recycle rancid excrement (i.e.
http://gadgets.ndtv.com/science/news/new-poo-poo-power-device-turns-dog-faeces-into-electricity-686951). Why are we so behind in everything?

Tom May 1, 2015 at 8:58 am

I think we can give the dogs a little space in a dog park to enjoy considering all the good they do us. Besides lowering our blood pressure, giving us some good laughs and making us feel safe.
Us humans are way behind the times when it comes to saving water, protecting the environment and sharing our space. Cheers to the Dogs!

Pete Smith May 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

What is with this urine thing,that is not the problem.It is the grass.the wrong grass was used,for the entire project.A soccer field is closed also,no urine there,for the same reason.Someone at the city should be responsible,for this major problem,funded by the taxpayers.to fix this major problem.Closed for maintenance,after a few months????,no,closed because of bad planning.

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