Water rescue for northwest Bakersfield neighborhood

By Carol Ferguson, Eyewitness News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Neighbors in a northwest Bakersfield area ended up with no water over the weekend, but a nearby water company is coming to the rescue. The Seventh Standard Mutual Water Co. serves 22 homes, and their system went down. But, Oildale Mutual Water Co. hooked up some emergency supplies first thing Monday.

“We’re just providing a water meter right there for our connection to a fire hydrant,” Oildale General Manager Doug Nunneley told Eyewitness News. “Seventh Standard will be running a line probably about a mile.” That’ll get the water to 22 homes in the neighborhood.

Seventh Standard resident John Lake says it’s lucky Oildale Mutual has that fire hydrant in their area. His neighborhood is just northeast of Seventh Standard Road and Calloway. The residents collectively own their small system.

Lake said a nearby road construction project “crushed” their system’s main line. He said that left their water running, which then drained their water tank. At that point, Lake says both wells were running “over speed,” and things just shut down.

“They were unable to pump any water, and they needed a temporary supply,” Nunneley explains, saying that’s when his company got the SOS.

Nunneley said since the “fix” includes a temporary water line, it hasn’t been tested or chlorinated. So, residents should boil water for at least a minute before using it for drinking or cooking.

Lake says Seventh Standard will work as fast as possible to restore their system, but it could take several weeks to make full repairs. It’s not clear yet if the wells or the pumps were damaged. And it’s not clear how long they’ll depend on Oildale Mutual for water.

But, the two companies are already in process of joining up permanently. Seventh Standard residents will join Oildale Mutual in what’s called consolidation. Nunneley said the state department of health is pushing for consolidations to help small water companies.

Nunneley said they’ve been working on this consolidation for about two years, and they’re waiting for finalization of a grant. “As soon as that’s approved, we’ll be installing a permanent line out there, so they won’t have this problem,” he said.

For now, the bigger company is coming to the rescue. “We’re here to serve the community and they’re part of the community,” Nunneley said. “We’re fortunate we’re in a position to provide them temporary assistance.”