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Community gardens adjust for well concerns

Thu., Sept. 12, 2013, midnight

A gardener waters plants in June 2012 at the East Central Community Garden. (Tyler Tjomsland)
A gardener waters plants in June 2012 at the East Central Community Garden. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Plots in East Central, Hillyard affected by water regulations

Earlier this year it looked like two community gardens would have to be moved, because they are located too close to city wellheads and violate Washington State Department of Health drinking water regulations.

The announcement surprised organizers of the Hillyard Garden, on East Hoffman Avenue and Crestline Street, and the East Central Community Garden, on East Hartson Avenue. The Hillyard garden has been in its location for three years and the East Central garden for five.

Now it turns out only the Hillyard garden will have to be moved.

The East Central Community Garden has worked out a deal with the Water Department where some of the garden beds can be moved to a different part of the property there, far enough from the wellhead.

Washington State Department of Health requires that the Water Department has complete control over any activity that takes place within 100 feet of the wellhead. The department inspects Spokane’s water system every five years and it was after the last inspection that the gardens were told to move.

Longtime East Central community activist Jerry Numbers said finding a new location for the garden was a monumental task.

“Some wanted us to move down to the vacant lots near Third Avenue, but it’s not that easy,” Numbers said, referring to a proposal to move the garden to vacant land owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and earmarked for the North Spokane Corridor.

Numbers said it turned out the garden only needed to change its layout to comply with state regulations.

“We are happy that we don’t have to move everyone,” Numbers said. “All we have to do is move some of the beds away from the building and we are good.”

Marlene Feist, spokeswoman for the Spokane Water Department, confirmed that a redesign is all it takes for the East Central Garden to comply with regulations.

The Hillyard garden is working on a new location and expects to have details confirmed within a month.

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