Lake Skinner Splash Pad
Landscape Architecture by Schmidt Design Group
The waterfall was custom designed by Schmidt Design Group, Inc. and fabricated from precast concrete by Quick Crete. The splash pad’s various water elements represent the journey water takes as it travels from the mountains, through numerous streams, into the California aqueduct, to Lake Skinner and finally to the commercial and residential water supply. The cascading waterfall represents the water descending from the mountains. Rock structures and textured rock-climbing walls in the splash pad mimic the mountain forms and the surrounding landscape.
On a hot California summer day, dozens of children can be spotted cooling off in the splash pad plaza located in the heart of Lake Skinner Recreation Area, a campground and regional park nestled in the hills of Winchester in Riverside County, Calif.
Yet the splash pad is more than just a place for families to have fun. San Diego-based landscape architecture and planning firm Schmidt
Design Group, Inc., designed the park’s water features as a tool for both entertainment and environmental education.
The squirting frog and flower are several playful water features from Vortex Aquatic Structures International.
“Lake Skinner reservoir is such an important part of our water infrastructure in Southern California,” explains principal landscape architect Glen Schmidt, FASLA, who founded the firm 29 years ago. “I’m sure many people who visit the park for both camping and day use don’t realize Lake Skinner is an important part of the water-delivery system in Southern California. We thought it was a wonderful opportunity
to integrate interpretive education into the water-play experience.”
The park’s various water elements tell the story of the journey water takes as it travels down the mountains, through the various streams, into the California aqueduct, to Lake Skinner and eventually joining the commercial and residential water supplies. The journey kicks off with a cascading waterfall, representing the water descending from the mountains. Rock structures and textured rock-climbing walls in the splash pad mimic the mountain forms and the surrounding landscape. A large, central water play area represents water’s journey through natural and manmade tributaries.
The landscape architect designed the shade structure (right) and chose the quotes etched into the concrete. This one reads: “All the water that will ever be is, right now.” —National Geographic, October 1993.
Playful elements like squirting mushrooms, frogs and butterflies, plus large flowers and cattails allow visitors to enjoy interacting with the water and one another while following the journey. Quotations and factual information
about the journey of water from the mountains to our taps are etched into the concrete paving.
An attention-grabbing, custom-designed oversized faucet in the splash pad marks the end of water’s journey as it reaches people’s homes. Children immediately connect with the recognizable imagery and are encouraged to contemplate the long, important trip water takes the next time they turn on the tap.
The custom-designed faucet by the landscape architect is a one-of-a-kind water feature fabricated by Vortex. The splash pad relies on a 4,000-gallon tank and a total water flow of 747 gpm. Water recirculates and is chemically treated through a complex system twice an hour at 143 gallons per minute (a 133 gpm rate is required by the
Schmidt Design Group designed the park and relied on the expertise of several vendors to realize the splash pad, including Aquatic Design Group, Vortex Aquatic Structures and Boulderscape.
The firm was met with several challenges along the way, including meeting the strict standards of the Riverside County Health Department and the code requirements that come with any installation of a water feature that includes human contact.