EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Independent School District is replacing the synthetic turf at three of its high school stadiums this summer and a new organic infill will be used that's expected to be safer for students than the rubber pellets currently being used.
Franklin is one of the first, but not the first school, in El Paso to get this new turf and infill. Burges already has it and El Paso High's is being installed, all with a coconut mix infill district officials say will be better for several reasons.
The new infill is an organic material made up of 90 percent coconut husk, 10 percent cork and mixed with sand. It's applied into the synthetic turf system just like the rubber has been.
"We're replacing every single turf," said Gustavo Reveles, spokesman for EPISD, pointing out the organic infill will be used upon installation. "The board made a decision that even if we don't seek any sort of green certification for a project, we will work toward building buildings and facilities that have sustainability and green mentality in them."
Trent Hatch, the new EPISD school board president, said every school will be taken care of.
"I haven't seen enough research to say that black pellets is a major issue," Hatch said. "I will say this, living in El Paso with the heat and lack of rain it really creates a challenge."
At the Sun Bowl they still have that old rubber infill, which can be very hot to the touch. The new infill is expected to play much cooler.
"When you get on these turfs in the middle of summer or even early September when games are being played, you'll see the temperature up around 110, 115 and even to 120 in some cases because its drawing in that heat, and then it has a hard time releasing it, so it contains it," Hatch said. "This will reduce the degrees by 20 degrees by replacing it with this new turf without the black pellets versus the coconut infill."
ABC-7 called around to other districts and they all said they still have rubber infill on their synthetic turf fields, most of them replaced within the past two to three years. Both Socorro and Ysleta ISD officials said they'll consider organic infill next time they replace the turf.