Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bills Advance
SACRAMENTO – Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help ensure low-income and pandemic-strapped Californians struggling to make water bill payments do not lose access to water service cleared a key committee hurdle today.
“Rising water rates coupled with pandemic-related financial setbacks have left people in many communities at risk of being denied this essential service,” Sen. Dodd said. “My legislation will ensure low-income customers aren’t cut off and get the financial help they need to keep the water turned on for their families. All Californians must have access to water, regardless of their income level or economic status.”
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 today by the Senate Environmental Quality committee with overwhelming support.
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 heard results of a survey Tuesday that found 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 www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.