Then was then, now is now (May 29, 2015)

Much has changed since a Blue Ribbon Committee met in 2011 to discuss the possibility of the Town of Apple Valley acquiring Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. Based on information available at that time, the Committee recommended against acquisition, and the Town Council agreed.

The next year, Apple Valley Ranchos began implementing rate increases totaling 19 percent. Two years after that, the company requested another 31.55 percent rate hike, while its corporate parent announced plans to sell itself off to a Canadian firm — further distancing the community from our most precious natural resource.

We no longer can afford to do nothing. Too much has changed in the past three years. Apparently, the Carlyle Group agrees with that last point. It was just three years ago that Carlyle purchased Park Water and its three water entities — including Apple Valley Ranchos — for $102.2 million. Carlyle now wants out and is trying to flip its investment to Ontario, Canada- based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. for two and half times that amount: $257 million ($327 million less $70 million in assumed debt).

Turning our water into some high-stakes poker game is not what we had in mind when we decided not to pursue acquisition in 2011. It’s simply too important to our survival — as human beings and as a community. Some will argue that none of that matters — that it’s free enterprise, and that we shouldn’t stand in its way. The fact is, Apple Valley Ranchos is not a normal company. It has a government-granted monopoly. Its customers don’t have the opportunity to buy their water from someone else, which means they are at the mercy of the company and the California Public Utilities Commission when it comes to how much they will pay and how much profit Apple Valley Ranchos makes. Choice, a fundamental component of a free market, is non-existent in this case.

The Town’s acquisition of Ranchos would right that wrong. It would bring reason, stability and, most important, local control to a water system that has been out of control these past several years.

— Bill McDaniel, Former Blue Ribbon Committee member, Apple Valley

Source: Daily Press