HESPERIA – The city of Hesperia is proposing to terminate its contract with the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) due to an anticipated rise in costs and unfulfilled obligations. A 30-year notice to terminate services will be issued, before the end of 2022, unless certain outlined conditions are met.
VVWRA provides “wastewater treatment, water recycling, renewable green energy and nutrient rich soil amendments.” The plant recently made headlines for becoming the first facility in California to inject renewable natural gas made from both wastewater solids and food waste into the Southwest Gas utility pipeline.
Hesperia along with San Bernardino County, Apple Valley and Victorville are the four member representatives from each service area that sits on the Board of Commissioners – the VVWRA Joint Powers Authority.
Hesperia states that a legal conflict had arisen “over the past decade” between the members due to Victorville’s construction of a wastewater treatment plant at the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) to support a Dr. Pepper/Snapple bottling plant along with domestic waste from the SCLA. The report states water flow has been diverted from VVWRA to the SCLA facility.
“This action by the City of Victorville violated the Joint Powers Authority agreement. Additionally, during this period on April 5, 2016, the Victorville City Council voted to exit the VVWRA Joint Powers Authority which requires a 30-year notification,” states the report.
Although a settlement was reached between Victorville, VVWRA and Hesperia – Victorville has not canceled its 30-year exit notification to VVWRA as part of this settlement.
According to the report, VVWRA operations are primarily funded by treatment of flow. Each member representative pays the same rate to treat the flow of wastewater.
“Currently, the City of Victorville accounts for about 60% of the flow of wastewater to VVWRA. Accordingly, Victorville pays roughly 60% of the revenue to VVWRA because they use 60% of the service. At this time Victorville has less than 24 years left before they exit VVWRA. When this happens the remaining three agencies will have to run the Joint Powers Authority with a significant loss of revenue,” states the report.
Hesperia says while it is “impossible to determine with any level of accuracy what VVWRA’s financial situation will look like in 24 years” it is clear that the remaining member agencies will bear the operational costs, unfunded pension obligations and any debt owe that poses a significant risk to future Hesperia ratepayers and the Hesperia Water District.
Also cited in the report is VVWRA’s commitment to provide “one million gallons per day of reclaimed water initially and up to 1.7 million gallons per day with some minor upgrades to the sub-regional plant.” The report states that while reclaimed water production has slowly ramped up over this time – water deliveries seem to have peaked at about 400,000 gallons per day.
“This is significantly less than the commitments made to Hesperia by VVWRA,” states the report.
The city requested, in 2021, that VVWRA require Victorville to cancel its exit notification to VVWRA or for a new Joint Powers Authority agreement to be in place that reconfirms all members to VVWRA, thereby eliminating Victorville’s exit notification. If Hesperia gives its 30-year exit notification, it can be canceled if one or both options occur.
Hesperia says the proposed termination of services could potentially “save ratepayers and Hesperia Water District many millions of dollars over time.”
Read the full report here.