AstroTurf vs. astroturfing (October 27, 2015)

Presentation to the Apple Valley Town council.

My name is Greg Raven, and I live here in Apple Valley.

One of the recommendations for coping with our current drought conditions is to replace lawns with AstroTurf®. Here’s what it looks like.


Instead of artificial grass, though, our Town council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on astroturfing, that is, creating a fake grassroots movement.

We know that 75 percent of the customers of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company incur no drought surcharge, and that only ten percent of Ranchos’ customers pay 80 percent of the state-mandated drought surcharges. Whether you are talking about the 25 percent who pay any drought surcharge, or the ten percent who pay the lion’s share of the drought surcharges, you are talking about a small minority of the water customers in Apple Valley.

Yet these are the persons to whom the Town council is appealing for support in its proposal to seize Apple Valley Ranchos.

My wife and I live on a half-acre lot. We are each retired and we don’t travel or go out much, which means we are almost always home. We have a washing machine and a dishwasher and a hot tub and mature landscaping, and because we’re always home that’s where we eat most of our meals. [When we get a drink of water, we do it at home. When we flush the toilet, we do it at home. When we do the laundry or wash dishes, we do it at home.] In other words, even though we try to conserve water, there’s only so much we can do.

This jar [below] represents the water usage on our last bill from Ranchos. Three units. Fifty-eight dollars. [No drought surcharge.] The previous bill it was four. [No drought surcharge.] The bill before that it was six. [No drought surcharge.] We’ve reduced water usage and thus our water bill for ten straight months. [We’ve never had a drought surcharge.]

3 units of water

This jar [below] represents the amount of water that residential users in Apple Valley can consume before incurring a drought surcharge: 32 units, or ten times more water than my wife and I use, being home all the time. [Even with this much water use, though, still no drought surcharge.]

32 units of water

This jar [below] represents the amount of water used by some of the supporters of the hostile takeover of Ranchos: 100 units, three times the normal allotment, and 33 times more water than my wife and I use, being home all the time.

100 units of water

This final jar [below] represents the amount of water used by one of the most vocal proponents of the hostile takeover of Ranchos: 150 units. [Almost 1,000 dollars.] Fifty times more water than my wife and I use, being home all the time.

150 units of water

[And yet, there are those who use even more. I’ve seen the bill from one of the Town’s supporters that shows 169 units of water usage, 76 times more water than my wife and I use. That bill was over $1,140, and includes $389 in drought surcharges alone.]

Those who conserve water are ignored or worse by the Town council. Those who demand the right to use excessive amounts of water without repercussions in a desert during a drought are flattered and sanctioned by the Town council. Why?

I fear that despite its many protestations to the contrary, the Town council has already made its decision to seize Ranchos. If not, I urge you not to collaborate in any way with the small minority that demands unsustainable water usage.

Instead, strive to keep our Town government as small as possible, and uphold the principles to which you pledge allegiance before each and every Town council meeting.

Thank you.

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