Bakersfield residents could see increase in monthly water bills

Diane White waters her Bakersfield, Calif., lawn Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Residents in Bakersfield could soon be expected to pay an additional 65 cents a month on their water bills.

That is if the California Water Service's proposed rate hike is approved.

Mike Mares, the district manager with Cal Water, argues that the rate hike is necessary to maintain the same level of service.

"A lot of this old infrastructure needs to be replaced," he said. "Our part of this system is old, and there is a cost. We want to ensure that we have reliable and safe water for future generations."

Diane White and her husband have been living in the downtown area for 14 years.

She takes pride in her lawn care, watering the yard two to three times a week. She said the proposed water increase sounds like a drop in the bucket.

"Sixty-five cents is not going to affect much," she said.

Several City Council members, including Ken Weir and Willie Rivera, said it's a little more than just a drop in the bucket. Rivera said the residents in his district should not have to pay more for their water.

"It frustrates me that there is really no end. I don't see a ceiling being reached," Rivera.

Cal Water took its increase request to City Council on Wednesday evening.

Weir presented research that he said shows that in the state of California during drought years, the stock price for investors in Cal Water went up about 170 percent.

Also, Cal Water's revenue went up, although he said fewer gallons of water were sold.

"It is hard to sit here and think that you need more money to finance your infrastructure," Weir said. "It appears you are operating well."

Bakersfield is the largest district in California serviced by Cal Water.

The City Council voted to intervene, which could stop Cal Water's request.

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