Beautiful Bowen Water Park on the palm-fringed beach esplanade is unique in having been surfaced twice with PolySoft Splash…

Back in 2012, when Whitsunday Regional Council commissioned a new PolySoft surface for its Bowen Water Park, it was a case of right surface, wrong drainage.

“They wanted a regulation-compliant impact-attenuated play surface that would withstand the typical rigours of day-to-day aquatic site exposure, without the failures that had characterised previous surfaces,” says Garry McIntosh, Managing Director of Super Surfaces, and who was not at that time, working on the Bowen brief.

The product required for this high-traffic, glorious site, set up for family fun, with barbecues nearby, was definitely PolySoft. Its polyolefin beads in a rich range of colours are long-term resistant to UV and chemical degradation; its surface is slip resistant and soft fall, yet hard wearing. It ticked all the Council’s boxes.

For a variety of reasons, installers didn’t properly consider drainage for the site, and the surface degraded uncharacteristically quickly, due to water build-up beneath the 99% waterproof PolySoft layers.

“If water gets into the matrix underneath the surface faster than it can get out, it gets pressurised,” explains McIntosh. “You can’t compress water, and even kids jumping up and down on it cause shock waves that blow holes in the topcoat so that it starts falling to pieces.”

In water-inundated parks using impact-attenuated surfaces, adds McIntosh, whose power trowels have so far topped over 25 successful Australian water parks with PolySoft, “You need to provide an unrestricted avenue of water and pressure escape.”

Super Surfaces is now the Queensland agent for PolySoft, and in 2016 McIntosh convinced Whitsunday Council to come back to its purpose-designed surface.

In the interim, Bowen Water Park had been surfaced with an intended dry-playground, synthetic-rubber granule covering known as EPDM, with disastrous results, including persistent black algae and mould growth caused by waterlogging, and rapid disintegration due to the effects of chlorine on the dye-coloured clay fillers with which the EPDM had been combined.

“I explained to the Council that PolySoft had never been the problem, rather it was the design concept that had failed,” says the Super Surfaces MD.

Take two, and McIntosh and his crew modified the concrete slab height; installed a specially designed drainage matrix that allows water to drain vertically and then horizontally; extended the drainage pits that provide egress of those water flows from the splash park; and extended the water spray jets to come flush with the new surface.

“To this day, they haven’t had a problem — the colours are still bright, it’s non-slip, it’s clean and hygienic. You should come and see it. It’s in a beautiful spot.”

Drainage is crucial to the success of any largely impermeable surface.

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