Assemblymember Dodd’s Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Bill Signed into Law

Friday, October 9, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Bill Dodd’s (D-Napa) bill to provide low-income water rate assistance has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. With the passage of Assembly Bill 401, the State Water Resources Control Board must now establish the framework for California’s first ever statewide water rate assistance program for low-income residents.

“With the signature of this bill, the state will now develop a program that will help relieve the financial burden on seniors and low-income families who are dealing with significant costs of water,” Assemblymember Bill Dodd said. “I would like to thank Governor Brown for signing this bill into law.”

Over time, water districts across California have increased billing rates for water service to levels that have put real financial strains on some residents. In certain cases water rates have jumped over 300 percent in less than a decade. Communities in Dodd’s district, such as the Lake County community of Lucerne, have been particularly impacted. The median income in Lucerne is just half of the state average, yet residential ratepayers average nearly $1,300 annually for water service, and many pay significantly more.

“As this severe drought continues, we need to ensure that low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes are not disproportionately burdened with costs for their basic needs,” said Assemblymember Dodd. “This bill is one piece of that broader puzzle that will help ensure an efficient, sustainable, and equitable water system in California.”

A number of the larger water utilities in California do have some form of rate assistance program, but the lack of a statewide standard causes significant financial hardships for many people, especially seniors. The measure was supported by numerous consumer and water advocacy groups, including the California League of Conservation Voters, Office of Ratepayer Advocates, League of Women Voters, and Sonoma County Water Agency.

Assemblymember Bill Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Yolo, Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Solano, and Colusa Counties.