In the mountain community of Keene, citizens shell-shocked over proposed water rate increases, vented to a state regulator and a railroad representative.
The Keene Water System, which is operated by Union Pacific Railroad, is seeking permission from the state to raise rates to offset increased operating costs.
Residents are being told their water rates could triple, from more than $200 a month to over $600.
Railroad officials say that's what it costs to provide the 22 customers in the system with drinking water, which is trucked in from Tehachapi.
That's because the groundwater isn't fit for human consumption.
"You can't drink the water. My animals can't even drink the water and you're asking for more money," said Keene resident Gary Calderon. "And, this year we are paying nearly $3,000 for water and we're hitting the limit to what we can afford."
Comments given Thursday night will be taken into consideration as the Public Utilities Commission processes Union Pacific's rate hike request.
Some skeptical homeowners in the audience fear the end game will be to make water rates so high, all of the homeowners will drop out of the system and the railroad can shut down their utility in Keene.