Long story short:
My community garden doesn't have a water tap because of how expensive it is. So this is something I've been very discouraged about ever actually make happen. On top of that, the way we do get water is a source of frustration for me on a frequent basis, and causes stress in the garden between members, AND I was pretty sure we were being screwed over. I found out today that chances are, I'm going to, in fact, have a water tap in my garden at an absolute maximum time frame of the end of this year.
Long story long, like really long, because I'm still all giddy about it:
I took over coordinating the community garden I'm part of this year, the previous coordinator had to step down. Boy was I surprised when I got the garden checkbook and saw our balance. Our biggest expense is water and we barely pay for that each year. And, after getting all the numbers, I was pretty sure we were knowingly being taken advantage of by the person from whom we get our water, and the previous coordinator was letting it happen. (Or he was *really really really* bad at math.) So, I've been trying to find any way at all to get us out of this situation with her.
The people who own this land we're on lease it to us at no cost, but it does not have a water tap and the owners are not willing to pay for one, and I don't blame them. Here in Colorado Springs, for the size tap we'd need, it starts at about $15,000. That's only fees paid to the city, that doesn't include paying the contractor to put in the pipes or paying for all the permits and inspections you need to do it.
So four years ago, the garden made an agreement with a neighbor. We pay her a fee, and then also pay her twice the cost of water for all the water we use for her to fill our cistern. Which amounts to paying about 3 times what we would be paying if we had our own tap, and is about 85% of our budget each year. And...well, to put it mildly, this woman is about the nastiest piece of work I've ever come across.
My husband is a wonderful man. He has the patience of Job. He is kind and gentle and always looks for the best in every person and every situation and rarely loses his temper. And he can't stand her, and absolutely refuses to deal with her and he will literally leave the garden if we're over there working and she comes over.
So, I get my nearly-every-two-weeks-on-the-dot call from her this morning and it was just as unpleasant as every other phone call I've had with her this year, and included her demanding that I kick someone out of the garden, and I had flat out had enough. By Gosh, I was going to find out the exact tap fee cost, and I was going to beg, borrow, steal, do everything in my power over the course of this year to make sure we could get rid of her.
I'm on the phone with the utitilities department after a while, trying to get exact amounts or at least a close estimate and you just won't believe this.
Turns out...a city ordinance 4 years in the making just passed last week in city council. From now on, in Colorado Springs, when a tap fee is assessed for a property that is going to be used for a community garden, the tap fee is defered, and the total is about $300 for the permits and inspections.
I think the city planner person I was talking to thought I was insane, becaues I just started blurbering "really, I mean, really, seriously? You're not messing with me?" And now my garden is looking at paying a contractor, plus $300, down from having to pay around $20k.
But it doesn't even end there. I said the bit in chat about being so happy when I found all this out, but it got EVEN BETTER.
My garden was started by a non-profit organization in town that does just that, goes out and starts community gardens. I got in touch with the man in charge there when I took over, started talking with him about fundraising and how much I wanted to improve the garden and this and that.
I found out over the course of today that this man, and this group, were integral in getting this city ordinance passed, and have been working on it for 4 years. Yeah...it started right about the time my garden was started...and in part was because of the difficulties they faced when they were starting our garden, and the difficulty we've had over the years with this woman who we pay for water.
And so I wanted to call him when I found this out, to mostly say "Thank you for working to get the city to do this, and congratulations." I mean, completely aside from my own garden benefiting, this is a FANTASTIC thing for the city to do and he's been working all this time to make it happen.
I left him a voice mail basically saying "I just heard the news, that's so great!! Give me a call after the holiday weekend, I want to get the ball rolling on this and get [that fundraiser we'd talked about] set up for next month."
He called me back in less than 5 minutes, and he says to me, before I can say anything, basically: "Natalie, if you can do all the footwork on this, get the applications filed and the permits and get some bids and find a contractor, we [his organization] will pay for it. We don't want you all to have to go through another season of having to pay for water like you do now."
I started crying, I honestly did, right there on the phone.
In a day's time, getting a tap for the garden has gone from $20K to zero.