TOAV rebuffs AVRWC’s damage claims (September 20, 2014)

AVRWC sees water-treatment plant as duplication of services

APPLE VALLEY — In a sharply worded rebuttal, the town of Apple Valley rebuffed claims from the Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. that the town’s plan to recycle water for irrigation will damage the water company.

In a letter from attorneys representing AVR, the town was threatened with substantial liability … attorney’s and expert fees, if AVR is forced to litigate this issue, town officials said in a statement, and the letter claimed that water recycling would be a service duplication even though AVR does not provide the service.

The town is coordinating with the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority to build a recycled-water treatment plant approved for construction at the Lenny Brewster Sports Center. The joint-powers authority represents the town, the cities of Victorville and Hesperia, and San Bernardino County.

In reply to Apple Valley Ranchos, Town Attorney John E. Brown said AVR’s effort appears to be an attempt to stop the project and deprive the public of millions of dollars in grant funding that would not only help pay for the project but increase water reliability, among other benefits.

The town and VVWRA have obtained $12 million in funding from local, state and federal agencies, town officials said.

Apple Valley Ranchos attorneys stated the town’s service duplication would harm the company and its customers, and the town’s position is unfounded, with Ranchos’ entitled to sell and deliver reclaimed water under a prior agreement.

It is important to note we remain fully supportive of the use of reclaimed water for the community of Apple Valley, said Christopher Schilling, CEO of Park Water Co., the owner of AVR. We also remain hopeful the town would engage with us in a meaningful, constructive discussion versus communicating only through attorneys.

As seasoned water professionals with experience in operating reclaimed water systems, we believe we can have a meaningful, positive impact on the development of this important resource.

Initially, the Apple Valley plant will provide 730 million gallons of recycled water annually. This is enough water to offset the daily use of 10,000 people for one year, town officials say.

We are complying with the directive of the state legislature by bringing this much-needed project to our drought-ravaged community, Brown said, rather than using our limited supply of drinking water on landscape and golf course irrigation and additional industrial uses.

While Apple Valley Ranchos is claiming a duplication of services clause as found in the Public Utilities Code as the reason for the claim, town officials said, the town is challenging the validity of that law, citing state and federal constitutional protections.

Since the plant will provide only recycled water, it will not result in a duplication of service, the town says.

Source: Staff, Gary Brodeur, Daily Press