APPLE VALLEY – For years, Apple Valley residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the Ranchos Water Company, now Liberty Utilities. The dissatisfaction came with the ever-increasing rates to residents over the years causing hardships to many households. In November 2015, the Town Council decided to move forward to eminent domain the Apple Valley Ranchos water system (Liberty Utilities).
Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars pushing for measures that would make it more difficult for the Town to acquire the water system, Liberty Utilities found victory in Measure V in recent years. Less than 2 months after the vote, the Utility company raised residential rates nearly 5%. This being just one of the most expensive water services in the region.
This was just one example of how residents, business owners, and Town officials say that Liberty Utilities has injured their community. On Tuesday, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Donald Alvarez ruled against Liberty Utilities’ challenge to the environmental review, which was part of the process to acquire the Apple Valley Water System. “This ruling is no surprise. I had complete confidence that the Town staff and attorney had properly prepared the documents back in 2015,” said Apple Valley Mayor Art Bishop “The only thing Liberty Utilities did by filing this frivolous lawsuit was to place more burden on our citizens, on top of the exorbitant rates they are already paying to this privately held company.” The ruling will allow the town to continue on the path toward an eminent domain case to acquire the water system.
Judge Alvarez ruled that the Town fully complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which identifies any environmental impacts associated with their actions. “Local control of our water is critical to our future. We owe it to the taxpayers who have borne the burden of these costly water rates to see these eminent domain proceedings to the end,” said Apple Valley Town Manager Doug Robertson. “The Town is ready to begin the next phase of the trial and we are looking forward to a successful conclusion.”
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