[Vision2020] water use at Moscow cemeteries

Bill London london at moscow.com
Tue Jun 17 12:05:10 PDT 2008

According to a report in the Daily News (June 9), the Moscow Cemetery District could take over maintenance of the Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery, a private cemetery located at Mountain View Road and the Troy Highway, if Latah County taxpayers agree to an override levy of about $10,000 annually. A vote to increase county taxes by that amount could be on the ballot in May.

I believe that the Moscow Cemetery District should take responsibility for Sunset Gardens. That is the right thing to do.

However, I also believe that an override levy increasing our county taxes by $10,000 annually for that purpose is not likely to find enough public support.

Given that situation, perhaps this is an appropriate compromise: add Sunset Gardens to the Moscow Cemetery District, but cut district expenses sufficiently to absorb the additional maintenance costs. Cut those expenses by drastically reducing water use at both the Moscow Cemetery and at Sunset Gardens.

According to information from the cemetery district office, the cost of pumping water from the aquifer to irrigate the cemeteries is about $10,000 annually. The real cost of irrigating those huge lawns is much higher if labor costs are included.

Those two cemeteries could drastically cut water usage and irrigation costs by maintaining all the trees and bushes, but allowing the lawn to naturally brown in the summer. If the Moscow Cemetery District cut its irrigation program, significant savings in the district's $175,000 annual property tax bill would follow. Both the Moscow Cemetery and the Sunset Gardens Cemetery would be maintained, and no taxes raised to do so.

Here's some reasons why the Moscow Cemetery District should cut water usage and allow the cemetery lawns to brown naturally every summer:

  1.. The city of Moscow has committed itself to water reduction through public education and a rate schedule that encourages water conservation and significant reduction in lawn watering. Moscow's citizens have responded and many Moscow lawns are now browning annually.

  2.. The aquifer that is the source of this irrigation water is a quickly-disappearing and finite water source that should be protected and conserved. Watering the cemetery lawns wastes this precious resource.

  3.. Most of Latah County's 30 public cemeteries are not irrigated. Those non-irrigated cemeteries are well-maintained, mowed, and attractive. The people buried at the non-irrigated cemeteries in Latah County are not less honored or respected than those buried at the few irrigated cemeteries. 

  4.. The Moscow Cemetery District presently administers two cemeteries. The other is the Buchanan Cemetery off Lenville Road, which is not irrigated. Therefore, the district has no requirement or mandate to irrigate, just a tradition of doing so. That tradition should change to fit the environmental awareness and constraints of our era.

  5.. Allowing a cemetery lawn to brown with the summer heat is appropriate, since this symbolizes the cycles of life and represents the seasonal changes our our landscape.

Conserving our aquifer and resolving the issue of perpetual maintenance at Sunset Gardens are important goals - and both goals can best be met by curtailing irrigation by the Moscow Cemetery District.


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