California baseball field transforms into virtual swimming pool

The best part about living in Southern California is that it never rains, right? Not this year. Instead, recent rains have left parts of the state's Inland region at constant threat of a flood ... and leave a well-known high school baseball field under enough water to virtually transform it into a winter swimming pool.

As reported in the Press-Enterprise, Tahquitz (Calif.) High's baseball field is under water, and not just a little water. Instead, the field is flooded with some six feet covering the entire surface. That's enough water to cover all but the tops of the outfield fences around the field. The flooding is the result of some six days of heavy rain that hit the area just before Christmas, with the field still recovering slowly from a full pumping, which pulled out most of the water that lay standing on the surface.

As it stands, this isn't the first your that Tahquitz has suffered from severe flooding, a case that raises questions over whether the school needs to re-visit the site of its athletic fields, but which also comes with an advantage: underground pumps. Yet those pumps, which were installed after the severe flooding last year, were actually part of the problem with the 2010 floods. In their first year under durress, the pumps backed up, sending a flood of water back out on to the playing surface.

Part of the school's problem has to do with the engineering decisions made when the school was initially built. According to the Press-Enterprise, the school was constructed on longtime dairy fields which were completely flat. To give the school buildings a limited amount of flood protection, land was dredged from one side of the field and added to raise the elevation of the other side, which was situated near the base of a small Inland mountain.

That left the area currently used as athletic fields in a man-made flood plain, an issue which has never been a serious problem until the past two winters.

Regardless of the field's long road back to playable condition, one thing is certain: Tahquitz's principal hasn't lost his sense of humor about the whole conundrum.

"When that happened, it was game over," Tahquitz Principal Michael Roe told the Press-Enterprise. "It became Lake Tahquitz. We instantly thought of what aquatic program could we add with Jet Skis.

"A lot of it is up to Mother Nature. We have calls in to her, asking her to be nice."

All the school and its baseball and softball players can do now is wait and hope for the best.

"By no means did we anticipate it getting as full as it did," Kris Jensen of the Hemet (Calif.) public works department told the Press-Enterprise. "It's not something we could have planned for. With the amount of rain we got, all you can do is ride it out and do your best to deal with the aftermath."

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