Liberty provides receipts for Apple Valley Golf Course vault (June 22, 2016)

Town had claimed ownership in wake of its unauthorized use of company’s water

APPLE VALLEY — Documents obtained from Liberty Utilities show receipts of payments made for a vault on the Apple Valley Golf Course, the ownership of which was called into question by town officials in the wake of the town’s recent unauthorized use of Liberty’s water.

In 2007, the water company paid for the vault located on the Apple Valley Golf Course just east of Tigertail Road and adjacent to Tomahawk Road, the documents show.

Just over $4,000 was paid to Inland Water Works Supply Co. for a precast vault and new 4-inch meter, which were later installed by High Desert Underground for $2,500, according to the documents.

The vault was set in place around a town-owned backflow device, and the company’s meter at the behest of the golf course’s ownership, according to Manager of Financial Services Eric Larsen.

(Liberty) paid all of the related bills and I have no record of the country club reimbursing us, Larsen said via email. It is typical that we own the vault in most cases.

Prior to the disclosing of the documents, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Nassif and Town Manager Frank Robinson both laid claim to the vault on the town’s behalf during last week’s Town Council meeting.

Possibly that was our vault that we cut into, Nassif said during the meeting. It was our vault.

Robinson’s comments came near the end of the meeting.

That vault, to the best of my knowledge, belonged to the golf course (and) now belongs to the town, Robinson said. So it is actually a typical hole in the ground concrete, culvert-type (vault) with a lid over it. That sort of thing. It’s ours.

Robinson backpedalled Tuesday, however, after the release of the documents.

The town appreciates the documentation regarding ownership of the Apple Valley Golf Course utilities vault that Liberty Utilities has now provided, he said via email. The vault was installed before the town acquired the golf course (in 2011).

He added that the question over vault ownership serves as a reminder that there is likely to be continuing confusion concerning such matters so long as there is not a locally owned, public water company.

In a cooperative long-term business relationship, Robinson said, you work out your problems before taking them to the news media.

Emails and a letter discussing the town’s unauthorized use of approximately 869,000 gallons of water were obtained in a public records request after Liberty disclosed the incident to the Daily Press in May.

Robinson previously said a Southern California Edison power surge knocked out the pumps to the town’s well that has served the golf course since last year, adding that golf course staff failed to contact Liberty to get the water turned on prior to the unauthorized use, which was opposite of the direction of Director of Public Works Greg Snyder.

Southern California Edison Spokeswoman Caroline Aoyagi told the Daily Press the company records power outages, but not surges, adding the company wouldn’t speculate on any surges in the area because Edison didn’t have enough incident-related details, despite being provided a full background on the town’s April 29 unauthorized use.

Meanwhile, chains on the town’s backflow device, which prevents water coming back from the town’s irrigation system into Liberty’s potable water-supply system, were cut after the vault was entered, according to Liberty Superintendent of Operations Carol Thomas-Keefer.

The town/golf course staff … cut and removed the chain that we had in place on the backflow valves that limited the amount of flow into the golf course, she said. The town staff also turned those valves in an effort to open a service connection, apparently not knowing the purpose of those valves.

The statement signaled back to Thomas-Keefer’s previous comments that the incident created a public safety issue with regard to the potential of a cross-contamination of different water supplies had the backflow failed, which made her question what type of a utility operator the town would be, but Robinson disagreed.

We called Liberty Utilities, apologized … and set protocols in place to prevent this from ever happening again, he said. The issue had been resolved at the staff level before Liberty decided to go to the media. Clearly they are just seeking to score political points by framing this as some sort of effort to steal water. Nothing could be further from the truth. The water used was metered, totally accounted for and paid for in full.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press