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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Water

Last night I went to our Water Users Association meeting. I guess it's kinda like a home owners association, but it's focus is the Water. Water is a very big deal here in the desert. Wars and Murders have taken place in our town through its history for water. Heck, our town was involved in a HUGE Revolutionary project called the Gunnison Tunnel just to get us water!

Well the Waters user association is basically made up of homeowners in this 'subdivision' to protect our water rights and use. We are not homeowners but I have been going to the meetings as an observer since we moved to this house about 5 or 6 years ago. I had missed that last users meeting and I'm glad I did. It had gotten heated and one of the council had resigned and now has her driveway barricaded and 'No Trespassing' signs up. Did I mention this town is heated about it's water rights?

I find the meetings very informative. I learn alot about what is going on in the neighborhood, like so and so broke her wrist 2 days ago and had to have surgery and a pin to fix it or so-and so is in Florida right now taking care of their mom. It's not gossip (no one mentioned the woman who's drive is barricaded) It's more like being a community,knowing what is going on with your neighbors.. the one with the broken wrist will have a few people bring by goodies and the one who is out of town will have an eye kept on the house.

Last night I learned a bit about water rights law as we discussed the approval of our district to get some of or water share from an alternate source. We also discussed some pipe that had been laid, we have been working for years to get all of the ditch system that can be in pipes and covered. We covered the battle with the new subdivision up ditch that had covered our ditch cutting off our water and how that was going.
We had a guy from the sewer company come by and he gave a presentation... seems they have to replace the ENTIRE subdivisions sewer system. I don't know why (that was covered in a meeting I missed), but it all has to be replaced and the home owners will have to pay some of it. Oh yeah, that explained why our rent had gone up. Seems that the sewer company is charging our land lord more then everyone else because he has this property zoned for a high density subdivision, so in anticipation of that impact they have to make adjustments to the sewer system. Nice to find out.
I guess I am always excited to learn new things and this is alot of new things! I also never knew that these where things that homeowners have to deal with.
WE also got to nominate committee members. I can't vote, make a motion or second... so I mostly sat quietly during the meeting. At one point the President mentioned I was being awful quiet. I was thinking about something but I didn't want to disrupt the meeting by bringing it up in the wrong time... they have old business, new business, future business... and as I can not vote, only comment, and it is a sensitive...very sensitive topic I waited.

Finally when the meeting was over and we all adjourned to the kitchen for doughnuts. I asked...

One of the old business topics that had been mentioned was how the Water Users Association is talking to a lawyer about liability insurance for the ditches. Specifically for the open ditches. This past year...Easter week in fact... a 2 year old drowned in the ditch. He was playing in his yard and somehow got in the ditch. It flows right by his family's house and they have no fence there.
So I asked...
In Texas there is a law in place if you have a pool about having a fence of a certain height. I wanted to know if the Water User Association had any rules or guidelines about having a fence in place. The open ditch also runs thru our property. We have always had to warn new move ins about the ditch and even run several kids out of the ditch. We put up a bit of a fence to keep the horse in,when he is feeling gracious. We go swimming in it in the summer, but no one can go alone and we stress to the kids the danger, not hard to do when your classmate has lost her little brother.

I had been thinking that perhaps having guide line set in place by the Water Users on having the ditch fenced somehow we could help limit the danger and liability. I guess you could say I got to see how politics actually works. Over doughnuts everyone who was left discussed that. Seems that's where all the real decisions are made.
Many liked the idea and most already had a fence erected. But someone told a story about a family in Ouray who had a fence and posted "beware of dog" signs around it. When a child trespassed and got bite the family was successfully sued because they knowingly had kept a vicious animal (see the Beware of Dog signs).
There was no decision made about that, I hadn't expected one. But the Lawyer will now be asked about that as they purse how the liability insurance will work. I know there is a conflict because they can not keep animals from reaching the water, by a law already in place... but that only affects where I live the rest of the ditch may not be affected... but now they are thinking.

As I walked out that night the President broke off a conversation and came over to tell me something, "I really hope you guys will buy something in this division! We want you around!"

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