By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Apple Valley) High Desert residents, especially from Apple Valley, gathered at the Apple Valley Conference Center Wednesday evening to talk about water, meet new people, and to have a good time. This, and more, was all a part of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company’s Informational Open House, which filled the conference room with residents, officials and even a few mascots.
Scott Weldy, Vice President and General Manager of Apple Valley Ranchos, spoke to High Desert Daily about the event moments before the crowd was let in to the conference center, “The goal today is to have something similar to a public participation hearing. Every third year, we have to file a rate case with the California Public Utilities Commission. In those instances, it’s ran by the administrative law judge. It’s a very controlled environment. There isn’t a whole lot of story that you get to tell. What our event today is, it’s trying to get out the message of who Apple Valley Ranchos is, what we do, and some of our community involvement. Just generally trying to get some of the positive message out there about Apple Valley Ranchos.”
Now, for many people, they may not know what exactly Apple Valley Ranchos is, and what their purpose is in the High Desert. “We are a investor owned water utility, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. We serve approximately 20,000 service connections in the town of Apple Valley and parts of San Bernardino County. We estimate the population served around 63,000.”
The event had the Apple Valley Conference Center set up convention style, as booths lined the walls of the room, bursting with information. The majority of the booths were dedicated to the various departments of Apple Valley Ranchos: from Customer Service, GIS Mapping, Safety, Conservation and more, each booth had unique and helpful information. There were a few non-Ranchos booths as well, which included one for the Town of Apple Valley, the Fire Department and law enforcement. Within minutes of opening the doors, the room, along with all the tables set up for guests to have a bite to eat, was filled with residents looking to learn more about their water bill. Weldy spoke to the crowd and showed a presentation that detailed on what Apple Valley Ranchos does, the importance and cost of replacing old pipes, and more.
Jane Robinson, a resident of Apple Valley for 13 years, commented on her view of the event, as well the actions she plans to take to conserve more. “I thought it was a very timely event, everybody in Apple Valley and the High Desert have a lot of very good questions about their water bills since they have increased so much over the last couple of years. It gave us an opportunity to ask appropriate questions, what we can do to conserve and help ourselves. I’m an avid gardener, so I hated giving up my plants to do that. But since I don’t spend all my time in the front yard, that’s a good place for me to conserve. So I am looking into the Cash for Grass program, and I will be a part of it next year.”
Doug Shumway, Director of Division 7 for the Mojave Water Agency, spoke to High Desert Daily about his take on this Informational Open House and why it was so important, “It’s a marvelous event, it gives people the chance to come in and talk to the right people about their water issues. All of us are concerned now about our water bills. This is an opportunity to talk to the right people, find out what the problems are, and learn how to conserve water.”
Another Apple Valley resident, Chuck McCall, took a moment to reflect on the event. McCall is a longtime resident of Apple Valley, as he has lived in the town since 1978. “I thought it was great, I think it’s very informative. This is the first time I have seen something like this coming from a water company. It’s done great things with pubic relations and I think it’s great and should continue to happen.”
When asked what he hopes are the main points that residents take away from this event, Weldy replied,“#1: is that understanding that Apple Valley Ranchos is here for their customers. #2, I want everyone to feel free to ask whatever questions they have and get them answered. #3, I think it’s the positive message and the positive things we do in our community.”
For more information on Apple Valley Ranchos, be sure to visit them online at: http://www.avrwater.com. The website contains information on conservation programs, online bill pay services, customer service, access to bills online, rates and tariffs, information on current construction projects, and much more.