Oildale water districts consolidate, but some question motive

OILDALE, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A history of feuding between twin water districts in Oildale may be a thing of the past. The boards of directors of the Oildale Mutual Water Co. and the North of the River Municipal Water District voted to consolidate into one Tuesday night.

"This consolidation you see here tonight is one of the best things for Oildale in many many years," said Don Wattenbarger, a board member on the Oildale Mutual Water Co. "The projected savings in the first five years will be probably $3 (million) to $5 million for the community in their water bills."

At a public meeting held at Standard School District, some questioned the motive behind the consolidation.

"It's a move of a takeover, and it's been that way from the beginning," said Oildale resident Dorothy Duvall and a North of the River client.

Duvall referred to an election held in 2012 in which three North of the River board members were running for re-election. The Oildale Mutual Water Co. openly endorsed three challengers. The challengers endorsed by Oildale Mutual Water Co. won.

"The board members that they installed at North of the River were the good 'ol boys from the community who happen to be siding with Oildale Mutual Water Co.," said Duvall.

Barring any legal action to prevent the merger, the consolidation is set to be implemented immediately.