Dry weather threatens Kroc Center plants

A place that prides itself on being green is fighting to keep its green.

Dry conditions have left many of the plants at the Kroc Center struggling to make it into the summer. Little rain and no underground sprinkler system mean that maintenance is on overdrive to keep the plants healthy.

“We’re praying for rain,” Facility director Bruce Fuqua said.

A two-man team has been manually watering the property for weeks.

“We can haul roughly 500 gallons [of water] three or four times per hour,” said Russell Vanoverberghe, facility staff member. “It takes all day.”

Due to the Kroc Center’s LEED certification, the facility cannot have an underground sprinkler system. The certification means that the Kroc Center is environmentally-friendly. The plants on site will be self-sufficient in a few years and require little watering.

But, for now, that means long days for the staff.

“A lot of times the guys will get here at 4:30 or 5 in the morning and come right out to start watering,” Fuqua said.

The staff members who have been doing the watering have the timing of the entire watering process down to a science, according to Vanoverberghe.

But, not all the plants are making it through despite this extra burst of water.

“We've lost a couple of pine trees already,” said Brian Nelson, facility staff. “They need a lot of water - about thirty gallons of water per day. And, we can’t keep up with all the trees.”

Staff members said they will continue to do what they can until raindrops start to fall.

“We’ve used below ground watering systems and just put them above ground,” Fuqua said. “We're saving money that way. It cost less than hoses and sprinklers.”

The above ground system is not a fix-all, but it will help cut down on the areas that have to be manually watered each day.

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