While others introduced rather imperfect sub-surface watering systems, we carried out the research and due-diligence to develop the simplest, cheapest and frankly the best performing product out there. Attwood's AquaBalance sub-surface watering system enjoys all the superior benefits to an over-ground (spray) system such as reduced water usage, discrete, and perfectly even moisture distribution. It also has advantages over other currently available sub-surface systems, such as improved moisture distribution, more flexible control, and reduced cost.
Sub-surface or ebb/flow irrigation systems have been gaining gradual acceptance over the last 10 years or so. One can see why this might be when the potential advantages of such systems are considered. Watering from underneath the riding surface can save on watering costs – it is reckoned that approximately 30% of water used in an overhead spraying system does not make it to the riding surface because of rapid evaporation, and also spray missing the arena surface. Secondly, water application should be more uniform than an overhead system, leading to a more uniform riding surface. Thirdly, particularly for an indoor arena, in an overhead system the spray can wet side walls leading to rotting of wood, corrosion of metal, and mold growth – this does not happen if the water is supplied from underneath.
On the market for many years now have been traditional sub-surface systems whereby the base of an arena is effectively flooded with water, which then percolates up through the footing. In order not to lose the water through the sub-base, an impermeable membrane is placed on the sub-base, creating one very large 'swimming pool'. Some products then have special water absorbing modules sitting on the membrane, whilst others simply have drain rock or sand as the bottom layer. Piping carrying the water is buried in this layer or throughout the modules, the water emitting via holes in the pipe. A second protective but permeable membrane is then placed on this base layer and the footing then sits on this membrane. Water percolates up from the flooded base, through the upper membrane to the surface. The level of water is kept at a constant height using a connected, adjacent submerged tank fitted with a float valve, so that the level in the tank matches the level in the arena base.
One disadvantages of the traditional ebb/flow systems is that the constantly flooded base tends to promote bacterial growth, leading to discoloration of the footing, and malodour. The growth can turn into slime (known as biofilm), which coats the base components and can block pipes.
Another disadvantage is that if the lower impermeable membrane should leak, then the system continually fills with water, leaving the owner with an expensive water bill.
Because of its complexity, a third disadvantage is that the system is expensive.
Attwood's new AquaBalance system has been designed to simplify underground irrigation. We have done away with the flooded base, immediately negating the disadvantages associated with that. By understanding the physical process known as capillary rise through porous media, the AquaBalance system comprises special water emitting pipes buried within the lower depth of the footing. This means that the base does not need to be flooded. Provided the correct footing is used, completely even watering of the footing is achieved. There is therefore no need for an adjacent, below ground balancing tank. AquaBalance simply uses a control system to regulate the water feeding directly off your water supply. What's more, the system can be as advanced, or as simple as you like. For instance water can be automatically metered depending on the water content of the footing – if it has been a hot day the system will deliver more water to compensate, or if it has been raining it may not deliver any to the arena. Or in a simple set-up the owner can set the system to water for a fixed period at the same time of the day, and this will be repeated each day.
In summary, in addition to the advantages sub-surface irrigation systems already enjoy over spraying, the extra advantages of AquaBalance over traditional ebb/flow include: