Bakersfield wins $82 million in water settlement

City manager plans to use it for new filters

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Bakersfield is getting $82 million dollars as part of a water settlement. The city sued Dow Chemical Company for releasing a pollutant at levels higher than state standards.

On Wednesday night, the city will take action on what to do with the money and how to move forward after buying a new water filter system on bonds to make the water healthier.

In October Bakersfield City Council approved a 16% rate hike to pay for new filters to remove a byproduct 1,2,3 trichloromethane, or TCP, from the water. But a new settlement will change the future of proposed rate hikes of 13% and 7% the city expected to add over the next two years.

Bakersfield City Manager, Alan Tandy, said, "We will cancel those future rate increases. And we will review the 16% to see if some portion of it might be able to be repealed."

The city received a settlement of $82 million dollars from Dow Chemical Company for releasing TCP as a byproduct in the 1900's. After $26 million dollars in legal fees, the city will use the remaining $54 million dollars to build 35 new filters for city wells to comply with the new health regulation and maintain the safety of our drinking water.

"We've always been in complaisance with state regulations. They changed the state regulations. It's costing us $54 million dollars to come into compliance," said Tandy.

This is what the new filters will look like. Smaller filters will be filled with charcoal next to the larger water tank. And Tandy said, the city may need the newly added 16% rate hike for operations and management, also known as O&M.

"On an interim basis it will cover O&M costs, because they will go up with the treatment facility and will pay for the cap along the 37 wells," said Tandy.

However, people say they're not convinced the 16% rate hike should remain on their bill.

California Water Service customer, Cherie Meza, said, "I don't think it's fair that they're going to keep the 16% and have already received their funding."

Michael McGlasson, who's also a California Water Service customer, said, "I'm okay with the rate hike for, if there's actually a problem to be filtered. If there's something in the water that needs to be removed and if the rate hike goes for that alone."

Tandy said the city is currently in the process of building their new filters on the 27 water wells they have and the 8 wells they're currently building. He expects the filters to be in place by the end of the year.

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