In a wise decision made five years ago, five South Bay high schools included artificial turf in a $70 million project to upgrade its athletic fields and the water saving is significant.
The Field of Dreams at Fremont High School is no longer grass. The grass has been replaced with artificial turf on the football field, a footprint of just over 1.6 acres. One baseball field also has artificial turf, while another is half grass and half artificial.
The same has been done at the district’s four other high schools, creating a major savings in water use.
“It’s a nearly 42 percent decrease in the amount of water our district uses and that’s over 300,000 gallons of water a year,” Fremont Union High School District spokesperson Sue Larson said.
Players say the transition to artificial turf was easy. In fact, freshman baseball outfielder Hamlet Izmiryan discovered another water-saving benefit — a spill-over effect that isn’t obvious at first. “It doesn’t mess up your clothes as much. It just doesn’t feel weird…it also saves a lot of water because it’s not even actual grass,” Izmiryan said.
The Fremont High School women’s softball field is still grass. The brown spots give it away, reflecting how watering has been reduced to only once a week. The school district is considering ways now to meet the governor’s new mandate to cut water use by 25 percent.
“We’re looking for ways that we can tighten our belts, and if there’s ways we can do it, we will do it because we want to do what we can to be good stewards in our community,” Larson said.
The district is looking at additional ways to cut down water use, including drought-resistant landscaping.
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