Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Approved in Committee
SACRAMENTO – As Californians recover from the pandemic shutdown, legislation advanced today from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of families who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service.
“Ensuring everyone in the state remains connected to drinking water is an absolute necessity for a full economic recovery,” Sen. Dodd said. “My bill ensures families will be able to pay for water services needed to protect their health and safety.”
Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey 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 on the brink of service disconnection.
Senate Bill 222, the Water Rate Assistance Program, would allow low-income ratepayers experiencing economic hardship to maintain their drinking and wastewater services. It would 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 disconnections.
SB 222 was approved by the Assembly’s Utilities and Energy committee on an 11 to 0 vote and heads next to Assembly Appropriations. It was previously approved by the full Senate. It is backed by a coalition of water advocates including the Community Water Center, Clean Water Action and the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
“To accomplish the Human Right to Water, all Californians must have access to safe and affordable drinking water. Water affordability is a key contributor to community health and sustainability,” said Jennifer Clary, California director for Clean Water Action. “We appreciate Sen. Dodd’s long-term and consistent leadership to advance critical water affordability legislation.”
“California families are drowning in $1 billion of water debt,” said Susana De Anda, executive director and co-founder of Community Water Center. “SB 222 would be a huge step forward in ensuring that all Californians have affordable water. We're proud to support this critical legislation for our communities. Together, we can realize the Human Right to Water for all.”
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.