Residents in Keene already upset with poor water quality &high rates now face a 290% rate increase

Residents face 290% water rate increase

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Residents say complaining about their water quality and now a proposed rate hike has left their mouths dry and hearts heavy.

While the mountains in Keene are beautiful, what's flowing from residents' faucets is not.

"You can't drink it," said a resident who only wanted to be identified as Cliff.

"It was even coming out brown at times," said resident Rita Fischer.

"You can't wash clothes," said Cliff.

"The time I made kool-aid, it tasted like sewer kool-aid," said Fischer.

And the water is not cheap.

Fischer showed 23 ABC her water bill from the Keene Water System.

Her actual usage charge was $59.  

But the total bill was $223.

The bill is similar for other residents.

"Nine dollars of usage and my total bill is $167," said resident Gary Calderon.

"I hate to go to the post office to get the bills because I know it will make me distraught," said Cliff.

23 ABC contacted the Union Pacific Railroad which operates the Keene Water System.

They said all the extra charges and fees in the bills go towards infrastructure improvement costs and the cost of trucking in water from Tehachapi.

As for the water quality, Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt said "we have operated in accordance with the public utilities commission's regulations and standards."

The bad news just keeps flowing.

Recently residents were notified of a proposed water rate increase of 290% for one year as part of a test to meet operating costs.

"Union Pacific makes no profit on the operation of the Keene Water System. We only seek to cover our costs and currently we're not covering our costs. We're falling far short of that and that's why we're seeking the rate increase," said Hunt.

Residents do not believe it.

"It's ridiculous to have to wake up every day and realize that someone is trying to put you underneath their thumb," said Cliff.


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