BAKERSFIELD, CA - As California experiences one of the driest years on record, tens of thousands of residents still don't have water meters.
A new report shows the majority of homes and businesses that aren't metered are in the Central Valley.
The study was done by The San Jose Mercury Newspaper.
It found more than 255,000 properties statewide can use all the water they want, without seeing higher water bills.
In Bakersfield, 23,683 people don't have water meters, according to California Water Service.
In Shafter, that number is 3,833. In Delano, 3,188 customers are without meters, and in Lamont, that number is 133.
With the state's unprecedented drought, The San Jose Mercury News reports unmetered communities like ours use 39 percent more water per capita than the state average.
But Rudy Valles, District Manager of California Water Service, says his numbers show there's a reduction in water usage.
"Our numbers show with the conservation program that we've been pushing since 2006, there's been a reduction in the use," said Valles.
Valles says since the conservation program began in 2008, customers have been doing better with how they use water, especially now.
"Our customers are doing a good job, but with this drought we need them to do even more and to continue conserving because it helps us," continued Valles.
Cal Water says on a monthly basis, it installs more than 2,000 water meters at homes in Bakersfield.
Ten years ago, the state legislature said everybody had to have water meters measuring their use by 2025.