‘It’s not OK’: South Bakersfield residents continue to suffer heat wave without water, demanding answers from water company

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Nearly a hundred frustrated residents piled into Shirley Lane Elementary Monday night for a town hall to voice their concerns and find out why their water has been shut off for days by Victory Mutual Water Company.

“Everyone is upset. Turn on the water, we need it!” said resident Luisa Espinoza.

According to the company’s vice president, the water shutdown is due to an electrical problem.

“They had to pull the well and put a brand-new motor and a brand-new pump in that well,” said the vice president. “As of now, they had to pull the well again because there is something wrong with the bottom.”

Audrey Richardson said this was the first time they have been able to speak to the company and said the company president, Bill White, refuses to give them answers.

“He refuses to talk to you. He will shut the door, he will hang up,” Richardson said. “If you go to a meeting, he will tell you to sit down and shut up it’s not OK.”

Supervisor Leticia Perez, who held the town hall meeting, said she understands why this community is frustrated as the days without water continue to add up.

“Yes, people are frustrated as they should be. It’s hot, it’s scary and people want consistency and there has been a breakdown is communication here,” Perez said.

Perez said this water shut off shows the flaws of small water companies operating in rural areas.

“These districts do not have a lot of support, they do not have a lot of experts frankly, they are not particularly sophisticated operations,” Perez added.

“They are usually family operations they are mom-and-pop, or neighbors get together and say we care about our water and that’s really not the way any kind of government structure should be.”

To help, Perez along with other county officials and organizations Tuesday continued to pass out water to all in the community. But this time residents were also able to see physicians to help those who may be feeling sick in the area, and residents were able to take a much-needed shower after not being able to for the past few days.

The timeline of when the water will be on is still unclear. 17 News reached out to the president of Victory Mutual Water company Bill White he said he had no comment, but 17 News was notified Tuesday evening by county officials that East Niles Community Services District has taken over temporarily to help fix the water issue in the area.

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