Watering woes

Written by Katy Nesbitt, The Observer May 29, 2013 10:58 am

Spring rains have greened the Enterprise Cemetery lawn. The cemetery board is looking at affordable ways to keep the grass green in the late summer months. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
Spring rains have greened the Enterprise Cemetery lawn. The cemetery board is looking at affordable ways to keep the grass green in the late summer months. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
 

Enterprise Cemetery lawn hasn’t been watered the last two summers due to regulations requiring backflow devices on underground sprinkler systems; cemetery board decides to purchase $10,000 above-ground water reel 

Regulations to protect drinking water have hampered the Enterprise Cemetery managers from watering the lawn the past two years.

In response to growing criticism, the board is looking at affordable ways to keep the grass green in the late summer months.

Federal and state laws require backflow meters on all underground sprinkler systems, said Lee Bollman, the cemetery’s former manager who extensively researched costs and alternatives to watering the cemetery lawn.

In a report presented last week to the board and concerned citizens at the Wallowa County courthouse, Bollman said the cemetery was established in 1890 and until the 1960s it was cared for by members of the community. In the 1960s a district was created to manage the records and create guidelines.

“The involvement of the community for maintenance continued into the 1990s,” reads Bollman’s report.

However, the board has been operating on the same budget as it has since the 1970s,  when it started watering the grass, Bollman said. The need to replace the water line “put into motion federal regulations mandating the installation of backflow devices on all underground sprinkler systems and the metering of water usage,” the report says.

Susan Roberts, cemetery district board member, said the lawn wasn’t watered in 2011 and 2012 while the board tried to find a solution to watering the lawn that was within the board’s means. Bollman estimated that the improvements to the watering system could be in the ballpark of $12,000. Bollman said of the $20,000 in the district’s account, $8,000 is needed for operating costs. If the remaining $12,000 is used to update the irrigation system, the district’s budgeted funds would be depleted.

Of the four options Bollman presented, the board decided to purchase a Kifco water reel. The above-ground watering system can be moved around the cemetery with a mower and can cover up to 649 feet and water a width up to 218 feet. The cost of the water reel would be roughly $10,000, Bollman said.

Additional costs for the cemetery to tie into the City of Enterprise’s water system was estimated by Ronnie Neal, the city’s public works manager, to run about $6,900. 

The council has also agreed to charge the cemetery a flat rate of $300 a month for the months in which they water, the same rate it was charged in 2011, said City Administrator Michele Young.

Regulations also require the city to install a meter, Young said, regardless of how much they charge a water user.

“We are required to
meter all water going through our system,” Young said.

The public works department is installing new bathrooms at the city park in July and Neal said his crew would be freed up to connect the cemetery’s pipe with the city’s system sometime after that is completed.

Roberts said the board agreed to purchase the watering system with money from a sinking fund set aside to build a new
columbarium.

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