AV official testifies in Montana water system trial (April 4, 2015)

APPLE VALLEY — The outcome of a trial that included testimony from an Apple Valley official may impact how water is owned and delivered in Missoula, Montana.

The city of Missoula wants to condemn a private water company, Mountain Water Co., and assume control of water delivery to residents.

Besides having a stake in the Montana trial’s verdict, to be delivered by Judge Karen Townsend, Apple Valley Assistant Town Manager Dennis Cron was called to testify about recycling water. Town officials had earlier meetings with their Missoula counterparts over acquisition of their respective Park Water Co.-owned and managed water systems: Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., serving much of Apple Valley, and Mountain Water Co. in Missoula.

The city of Missoula, Montana, is hoping to acquire ownership of its local municipal water system, which is privately owned by Mountain Water Co., town of Apple Valley attorneys Best Best & Krieger said in a statement. Mountain Water Co. is part of Park Water Co. and, like Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., is owned by Carlyle Infrastructure, a private equity firm in Washington, D.C. The city condemnation trial is currently under way in Montana.

The city of Missoula for a number of years now has carefully studied and monitored the operations of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., which is operated by the same management team as Mountain Water Co. As part of the condemnation legal discovery process, the city of Missoula identified Dennis Cron, assistant town manager, as a possible witness in its condemnation trial because of his knowledge of longstanding efforts to develop the use of recycled water in the town of Apple Valley. The production and delivery of recycled water by the town is opposed by Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co.

Mr. Cron was subpoenaed by Park Water Co. and his deposition was taken. Mr. Cron was then called as a witness by the city of Missoula in its condemnation trial to testify about the town of Apple Valley’s efforts to bring recycled water to the town of Apple Valley.

Apple Valley is planning a groundbreaking ceremony April 16 for a subregional Water Reclamation Plant being developed by the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority. A twin plant in Hesperia broke ground March 24, and both are expected to be completed in 18 months.

Town officials have expressed interest in purchasing Apple Valley Ranchos but are being rebuffed, while owner Park Water’s pending sale to Liberty Utilities is subject to California Public Utilities Commission approval.

While we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation, we can say that this trial is clear evidence of how long and costly a government takeover attempt will be, Park Water Co. CEO Christopher Schilling said in a statement. Millions of dollars by both sides have already been spent on this litigation.

We believe a similar unwarranted attempt by the (Apple Valley) Town Council to take over Ranchos will divide this community and result in higher property taxes or water rates, possibly both. The town will be better served with the council focusing on more important priorities than attempting to take over a business that has been serving this community well since 1945.


Source: Daily Press