Families want action after irrigation system fails at Mount Olivet Cemetery

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WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- The final resting place for thousands of Catholics in metro Denver has turned from lavish grounds into acres of arid land -- and their loved ones are not happy about it.

Among the rows and rows of headstones is a sacred place for Helen Rodriguez.

“This is my mommy and this is my grandma. And this is my son” she points out.

For more than a year, Rodriguez has been hauling jugs of water nearly every day, trying to turn what’s drying and brown back into what it once was.

“We’re trying to save what we paid thousands and thousands of dollars for. It was breathtaking beautiful. You could see the mountains. I thought it was the perfect place for Desi,” she said.

For her son Desi and for the nearly 30 family members buried here, it was perfect, until now.

“This is totally unacceptable,” she said.

As newly hung signs point out, the more than 100-year-old Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery is experiencing issues with its irrigation system.

“'We appreciate your patience and understanding.' Well we don’t have any understanding anymore. We’ve run out of them and we don’t understand,” Rodriguez said.

“It’s just kind of caught up with us," said Gary Schaff, executive director of cemetery and mortuary services for the Archdiocese of Denver.

Rusted pipes and broken valves mean water isn’t being pumped to much of the 110 plotted acres.

“We’ve had a series of experts and irrigation specialists here to kind of look at what our issue is. We intend to kind of completely revamp the system. That's going to start here in the very new future,” Schaff said.

For Rodriguez, the future isn’t soon enough.

“This is their final home. This is it. And it should be beautiful,” she said.

Where she once found solace, Rodriguez said she now finds heartbreak.

“Alright kiddo. See you day after tomorrow, OK,” she said as she kissed her son’s gravestone goodbye.

The director of Mount Olivet said some of the broken valves will be replaced in the coming weeks.

A long-term fix should be in place by spring.​

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