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Occidental Soccer Field Proved a Pain to Drain

The engineers who designed Occidental’s new soccer facility took a novel approach in planning the irrigation system.

And it’s a safe bet they won’t try anything similar again soon.

Most fields are built up approximately 2% in the middle, allowing water to drain off toward the sidelines. At Occidental, they decided to slant the entire field at a 2% grade, with the water runoff all in the same direction.

It didn’t work.

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Upon completion, the field resembled a short ski run.

“Someone could crouch down at the high end of the field and you couldn’t see them from the low end,” said Hal White, Occidental’s grounds supervisor.

Obviously, a correction had to be made. So the field was dropped a notch at one end and raised at the other.

Problem solved?

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Not quite. The irrigation system didn’t fit.

It turns out that Occidental needed more of a mountain than a molehill.

The field, built on a hill overlooking the baseball diamond, was 10 feet shy of regulation width. Worse, there was no room to extend its boundaries.

Finally, the school had to shell out $85,000 for the construction of a retaining wall down one side of the hill. Dirt was hauled in to fill in the gap between the wall and the hill.

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“It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s not bad,” White said of the finished product.

More than anything, it provided a rather expensive lesson in landscaping.


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