Sowing the seeds of discord (August 10, 2015)

A couple months ago, the Daily Press published a piece by Tony Penna, General Manager of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (Apple Valley deserves new narrative on water, May 20, 2015) that read in part:

The water challenges we face in Apple Valley and throughout the High Desert are complicated, but solutions exist that will require a cooperative, inclusive community. It is going to take all of us working together to respond appropriately to the state’s new mandatory water restrictions.

This drought is just one opportunity for Apple Valley to come together. It is an opportunity to tap in to our potential and collaborate to solve our immediate water supply challenges together. That’s why I am asking the Town of Apple Valley and the Town Council to give serious consideration as to how we might come together to address challenges rather than create new ones.

All of us need to face our water challenges. The Town, the residents, the businesses and Ranchos all working together need to shift our efforts from fighting about water and dividing this community, to talking about water and coming together to solve the immediate challenges we face.

The response from the Town, unfortunately, has been a continuation of its efforts to whip up sentiment against Ranchos. On July 7, for example the Town published the following item on its Facebook page.

We have been hearing that AVR has been adding significant ‘drought surcharges’ to your water bills. Add a comment to this post and let us know what your bill says about a drought surcharge.

This resulted in several persons posting about surcharge amounts. Without fail, each of these persons was using a truly incredible amount of water. When I lived in Costa Mesa and had lawns front and back, we were using 19 units of water every two months (our last bill here from Ranchos was for 6 units). Those posting about surcharges and high water bills were using 60 to 100 units of water every two months. I have it on good authority that one of the council members admitted to using 49 units of water on a recent bill. Given that the Town’s own council members don’t understand the importance of reducing water consumption, it stands to reason that the Town simply isn’t helping in getting the word out, assuming it even realizes what’s at stake in the first place.

The Town should be partnering with Ranchos instead of undercutting and demonizing them, and listening to Ranchos instead of attacking. The obvious collaboration would be for the Town to help get the word out about the importance of water usage, and what conservation measures are expected from each of us.

I realize it takes effort to bring a community together, especially compared with the ease at which a community can be torn asunder. True leaders are willing to make that effort.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.

Published: Citizens for Government Accountability