City of Bakersfield, Cal Water get settlement from Dow Chemical to pay for well treatments

Photo: Max Pixel via MGN, file

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit with Dow Chemical Co. that should help clean Bakersfield's water while keeping customer rates from further increases.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a toxin that was used as a soil fumigant made by Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil until the 1980s.

The pesticide was banned in the 1990s because there was evidence to support the chemical was harmful to humans. However, by that time the toxin had already seeped into the groundwater and into hundreds of water wells across the state.

The contaminant is 1,2,3-trichloropropane, and the state set a TCP threshold over the summer, forcing water companies to install expensive filters at their wells.

The City of Bakersfield and California Water Service were both parties to this lawsuit. The city, for its portion, will net around $54 million to help its treatment efforts at 35 wells.

City water customers got slapped with a 16 percent increase in October and faced additional rate increases so the city could pay for its state-mandated well clean-ups.

The city manager's office on Friday said they hope to void a pair of upcoming rate increases now that they've got this settlement money.

Cal Water has another 24 wells that need the filters. The company hadn't raised rates on its customers, and this settlement means that likely won't have to happen.

A Cal Water spokesperson said Friday that they couldn't yet comment on the settlement.

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