Putting Cal Water to the test

Posted at 8:35 AM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 11:35:28-05

With the drought, water companies have changed their rates to encourage customers to save water, to abide by the Governor's mandate, this has a Kern County Supervisor asking some questions.

Cal Water, for example charges a higher rate to metered customers if they go over their water budget. Mike Maggard, District 3 Supervisor, said Cal Water has a responsibility to answer his questions publicly.

So far Cal Water has made it to two Board of Supervisor meetings, but canceled the last two times in October and November. So we got some answers to Maggard's questions.

"Why are only metered customers being expected to hit a specific target.?" Maggard said.

Cal Water's Spokesman Rudy Valles said they have roughly 70,000 customers, 18,000 are not metered, so about 25% and the company is working on getting them metered within the next 3-6 years but flat rate customers are still being watched.

"Well, they don't have surcharges, but um, they do have to abide by the restrictions," Valles said.

Valles said they get complaints and monitor social media sites to catch water wasters, if there is a repeat offender, they must have a meter put in on their own dime.

"When customers receive with their bill, a mandate that says they must use this much water and if you go past it you can be penalized, when that happens it's all done through the mail," Maggard said he is concerned about older customers and others who do not get regular mail or go online.

"We kind of track them, and if we see someone continuously going over budget we contact them, we try to contact them by phone first if we can, if we can't get a hold of them we will send someone out," Valles said.

Maggard was also upset about leaks in Cal Water's system through the summer. This included several that created bubbles of water leaking into the street.

Valles said the polyethylene tubes that carry the water are to blame.

"We're replacing those with copper, copper seems to last forever," Valles added that the chlorine in the water also causes wear to the tubes.

Maggard and Valles agree, over the summer the process and communication with customers have improved.
so that leaves me wondering what else can they do, is there more they can do to reach out more they can do to help.

Cal Water said they are available to meet in February with the Board of Supervisors.