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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Facing funding cuts by local water agencies, conservation garden considering structural changes

Water-saving showcase may become a nonprofit

September 5, 2009

RANCHO SAN DIEGO: The Water Conservation Garden, facing mounting financial difficulties, may become a nonprofit organization instead of being governed by a group of San Diego water agencies.

The concept of changing the governance of the garden was approved by the Otay Water District board this week. The Otay board also approved providing $7,750 to assist the garden in becoming a nonprofit group.

The garden near Cuyamaca College was founded 10 years ago as a showcase to display flowers and other plants that require little watering. The garden offers classes and provides advice from professionals on designing a drought-tolerant lawn.

The garden is now governed by a joint powers authority made up of the Otay Water District, Helix Water District, San Diego County Water Authority, the city of San Diego, the Sweetwater Authority, and Cuyamaca College. The Otay and Helix water districts provided about $2 million each to construct the garden, which opened in 1999, on land donated by Cuyamaca College.

If the garden became a nonprofit, the water agencies would still contribute long-term funding, but a nonprofit would be better able to raise additional money, an Otay staff report said.

If approved by the Water Conservation board, the nonprofit would assume full management of the garden in 2011.—A.K.

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