Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bills Advance

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills – a problem worsened by the coronavirus pandemic – has cleared a key committee hurdle.

“All Californians must have access to water, regardless of their income level or economic status,” Sen. Dodd said. “Many people are at risk of being denied this essential service, in part because of rising water rates but also because the pandemic has left so many people unemployed. My legislation will ensure low-income customers aren’t cut off and get the financial help they need to keep the water turned for their families.”

Sen. Dodd has proposed two bills to ensure access and affordability. Senate Bill 222 establishes a water assistance fund for low-income rate payers experiencing economic hardship. And SB 223 expands protections and protocols for customers who are faced with having their water shutoff because of an inability to pay their bills.

They were approved with overwhelming support late Monday in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications committee. The bills head next to the Senate Environmental Quality committee.

Together they build on Sen. Dodd’s earlier legislation. His Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Act, or Assembly Bill 401, commissioned a study for how to address affordability. It resulted in recommendations including this new fund. He also wrote The Water Shutoff Protection Act, or SB 998, which provided significant safeguards against water shutoffs.

The new bills come as the State Water Resources Control Board has received results of a survey finding water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. Many of those people are at risk of losing service.

Sen. Dodd’s proposals are backed by a coalition of water advocates including the Community Water Center, Clean Water Action and the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. 


Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at