The Victor Valley region has long been a leader in setting and realizing sustainability goals. And with solar energy resources in abundance, it’s no surprise that area businesses continue to look for opportunities to increase the use of that renewable resource.
Locals may recall that Walmart made headlines when it completed a large-scale solar power project at its Apple Valley Distribution Center, one which utilizes more than 5,300 ground-mounted solar panels to generate enough energy to power 175 homes.
More recently, the developers of Tapestry announced that rooftop solar panels will be installed on the master-planned community’s homes, with “energy generated from onsite solar panels [to] generate … a minimum of 20 percent of energy use for the overall Specific Plan.”
Of course, efforts to maximize natural resources aren’t limited to solar power. For example, the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility in Victorville can treat 2.5 million gallons of water per day, making it an attractive option for beverage manufacturers — not to mention industrial customers at the Southern California Logistics Airport that are in need of a source of reclaimed water.
Mojave Water Agency
Meanwhile, Mojave Water Agency (MWA), a regional wholesale water provider whose primary mission is to ensure a sustainable water supply, engages in a variety of conservation efforts. For one, MWA has been a pioneer in turf removal programs, which have resulted in the removal of millions of square feet of residential turf in Victor Valley and elsewhere in California.
The agency helps sponsor the Alliance for Water Awareness and Conservation (AWAC), says Nicholas Schneider, MWA’s water conservation and forecast manager. AWAC is made up of several local water suppliers and community groups that educate and encourage the public to conserve water. For the past two years, the MWA and AWAC have teamed up to host the High Desert Innovators Water Summit, which encourages middle school and high school students to engage in water issues.
Technology plays a significant role in several MWA initiatives. For instance, MWA employs infrared imaging to verify water usage, which helps the agency determine current water demand and also helps project future demand, Schneider says.
Yet another important initiative that helps ensure a sustainable water supply is the Regional Recharge and Recovery Project — known as “R-Cubed”— which allows for delivery of State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct to key recharge sites along the Mojave River in Hesperia and Apple Valley, says Yvonne Hester, director of community outreach for the MWA.
“The R-Cubed program is basically a water bank. The purchase and transport of water to the High Desert region allows the MWA to store water in underground aquifers during wet years. During drought periods this stored water can augment local supplies,” she says.
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District
No less important to public and economic health is the area’s air quality. Consider the work of the Mohave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD), whose mission is to attain and maintain a healthful environment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth.
Local businesses — including dry cleaners and gas stations, to name but two regulated businesses — have come to appreciate how the agency offers one-on-one guidance, fast permit turnaround times, low fees and a decidedly user-friendly website.
Businesses looking to expand are also attracted to the area by the availability of emission reduction credits, which are created when a company reduces air emissions beyond what is required. (Credits can then be used by the business that generated them or sold to other companies.)
“The Mojave Desert has one of the largest emission reduction credit banks available in California,” says Executive Director Brad Poiriez. “That is a huge plus for a developer; in other areas of the state large-scale growth is stymied because there are no emission reduction credits out there.”
Victor Valley residents are also reaping the benefits of the MDAQMD’s educational efforts, which include sponsorship of the Mojave Environmental Education Consortium. That initiative helps improve the environmental literacy of children, teachers and communities in the region.
But for Poiriez, job one remains working with businesses to provide them advice “so they can make appropriate decisions,” he says. “It’s really important for us to find that balance between being a regulatory agency and being able to assist businesses, so they can do their day-to-day work and stay in compliance.”