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Dodger Stadium Battles Drought With Cutting-Edge 'Skywell' De-Humidifier

CHAVEZ RAVINE ( — As local residents and businesses continue to feel the pressure to use less water, all they have to do is look to the oldest Major League Baseball stadium on the west coast, who is hitting out out of the park for water conservation.

Dodger Stadium, which hosts millions of fans each year through baseball season, is using cutting-edge technology to conserve water, and is looking to the sky for solutions to the drought.

In Chavez Ravine, landscape manager Chaz Perea says the stadium is doing something no other Major League ballpark has ever done before. They are literally using water that is pulled out of thin air, using a new device called Skywell.

"We want to go out of the box," Perea said. "We want to try new stuff. We want to get out of our comfort zone and let's learn."

The Skywell unit is essentially an enhanced de-humidifier. It sucks air in, and extracts the moisture.

"(It is moisture) that we can use for watering planting beds and trees, and some of the things we have around in our landscaping," Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations Steve Ethier said.

One Skywell unit can generate as much as 100 gallons of purified water in just one day, according to Skywell's CEO, Ron Dorfman. "This enables you to control your water availability for your particular needs."

"This is technology I think can, and will, make a difference," Dorfman said.

Dorfman, whose company is based in Santa Monica, was inspired by the drought to develop an alternative source for drinking water.

Skywell sells an industrial unit for about $20,000, and a smaller, home unit for about $2,500.

The Skywell plugs into a standard electrical outlet. An interactive touch-screen displays water temperature and volume. Moisture is then collected and purified, using a rigorous multi-filter process.

Skywell is just one way in which Dodger Stadium has drastically reduced its water usage. New electronic sensors, buried throughout the field, measure moisture and temperature, which has resulting in cutting back on sprinkler times.

Through landscaping with mulch and drought-tolerant plants, and by water with drip-systems around the ball park, stadium officials say they have successfully lowered irrigation run times by an estimated 75 percent.

Additionally, crews have also stopped the practice of washing the stadium with pressure hoses after home games, and are now doing more sweeping and mopping.

"It's the right thing to do, and it makes sense," Ethier said.

Currently, stadium officials say they are testing out the Skywell as a trial, and plan to make a decision on whether or not to purchase the unit within the next few months.

Perea, meanwhile, says that he hopes the stadium's efforts for water conservation and landscaping are taken as examples for the rest of Los Angeles, as the city continues to battle through a historic drought, whose end remains nowhere in sight.

"We want to set the example in Los Angeles for water usage and exterior landscaping."

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