Reject Measure W (October 2, 2016)

The supporters of Measure W keep referring to the water as our water; they even have that on their campaign signs. This sends an incorrect message to voters. There is no our water. The water under this valley was adjudicated 30 years ago at the request of the City of Barstow, which felt that alfalfa farmers in the Victor Valley were taking all of the Mojave River water before it got to Barstow. As a result, Judge Kaiser in Riverside ruled that water in the Mojave River would be allocated based on prior use.

Water use is now based on a water right. Those who hold the right can access the water to a limited extent. In order for Liberty Utilities to provide water to consumers they have to own sufficient water rights to provide adequate flow. Mojave Water Agency acts as the watermaster for the basin, and they approve the purchase or sale of water rights. Water rights can also be leased. Upon a successful effort by The Town of Apple Valley to take over Liberty, the Town would have to buy water rights to provide water to consumers. There is no free water except that homeowners who are not served by a water provider can pump a limited amount of water from their well subject to watermaster restrictions.

The estimation of the value of water rights to serve the town of Apple Valley’s water customers is in the range of $60 million. Ranchos water started acquiring rights immediately after the ruling, and they had significant rights of their own. Of course, the Town of Apple Valley could try to buy water rights elsewhere, however, I am not an expert but I believe they are in short supply.

VVWRA is spending millions of dollars building a state-of-the-art recycling plant in Apple Valley which will provide recycled water for parks and the town’s golf course. What will the cost of this water be? The town is not automatically entitled to free recycled water. When Jess Ranch was built, the town was not incorporated. The Lahontan Water Board requires that septic tanks can only be installed on minimum half-acre lots. Jess Ranch lots are significantly smaller so a sewer system was required. Apple Valley Ranchos stepped up and built the sewer for the residents of Jess Ranch. When Apple Valley was incorporated the town established its own sewer system, primarily because the homes on the north side of Highway 18 could not use septic tanks because of the caliche.

Ranchos subsequently transferred the Jess Ranch sewer to the town in exchange for the exclusive right to sell recycled water when it became available. In 2017 it will be available. The town will have to pay Liberty for recycled water if it is unable to obtain the company by eminent domain.

Now you know why all five Council members are in favor of the takeover. I say we need to limit their authority to spend millions of taxpayer money. We need to vote on these extraordinary expenditures. That is why I signed Measure V. Please join me in approving measure V and rejecting measure W in November.

Peter Allan, Apple Valley

Source: Daily Press

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