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Once green, Beach Park turns brown as well that supplies irrigation water stops pumping

The grass has faded from green to gold to a dull brown at Beach Park, one of the city of Bakersfield's most visible parks.

It means there's no turf on the soccer field, the baseball field or anywhere else in the 26-acre park at 24th and Oak streets.

"It's frustrating for me to see the grass die and have the park in that condition," said Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose ward includes Beach Park.

According to city spokesman Joseph Conroy, the well that supplies irrigation water to the park has been down for several weeks, since late May or early June.

"We hope to have it operating once again in the coming weeks," Conroy said in an email.

Recreation & Parks employees found that repairs were needed for the system's irrigation pump. The city is working with a local well contractor to repair the equipment and is awaiting parts needed to complete the repairs.

However, there have been delays in acquiring those parts.

"The pandemic has interrupted supply chains across all industries, affecting the availability of parts and materials needed for such repairs," Conroy said.

"In order to prevent the loss of as much plant life as possible — especially the mature trees throughout the park — the city has been using water trucks to supply some of the needed water," he said.

Indeed, any green grass left in the park is beneath the trees.

Gonzales said city staff deserves credit for having the foresight to protect the park's trees by dedicating efforts to hand watering. But his frustration was clear.

"Beach Park is one of the most visible parks in the community," the councilman said. "Tens of thousands of people pass by the park every week.

"It is kind of our second Central Park," he said. "It's that prominent."

Parks staff believe the turf will return once the water is turned back on, Gonzales said. 

But he thinks this problem has occurred before, and he's hoping for a more permanent solution.

"Why can't we connect the park to the city's water lines?" he said.

Gonzales said purple pipe may also be part of the solution. Purple pipe means using reclaimed or recycled water, converting wastewater into water that can be reused for other purposes, especially irrigation.

"We're in a drought," he said. "And there will be more droughts in the future."

Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.