Rate-hike fight: KRV residents unload on California Water Service

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Hundreds of angry residents jammed the Lake Isabella Senior Center on Tuesday evening for a hearing held by the California Public Utilities Commission. The subject was one very close to their wallets - a proposed water rate hike by California Water Service.

"Unacceptable," said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, who represents the area.

Gleason said the rate hike would result in a 44.66 percent increase over three years. Many of the residents in Lake Isabella and the rest of the Kern River Valley are elderly who live on a fixed income. Others are low-income and some are veterans.

The hearing by CPUC is part of the process to gather comments from the public on the proposed rate increase. People here say they already pay too much for water.

South Lake resident Cindy Powers brought her water bill from May and June of 2012. The bill for both months was $523.29. The service charge alone totaled $121.60.

"That's a little more than $60 a month just to have a meter, not to get water," said Powers.

Cal Water Service's vice president said the rate increase in necessary because of rising costs to infrastructure and improvements that need to be made for Kern River Valley residents.

A decision by the CPUC is expected before the end of the year.