During the pandemic many people lost their jobs and had a hard time paying their bills. In California a water moratorium protected residents who were not able to pay; the moratorium started in April of 2020 on September 23, 2021, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted Resolution M-4857 which approved an extension of the moratorium to December 31, 2021.
Now that the moratorium is over some water companies are returning to shutting down water; however, some applied for a program that will provide funding to keep from shutting the water off.
According to the California water boards website the California Arrearage Payment Program will be using the $985 million in federal funding allocated by the state legislature to cover water debt for residential and commercial customers from March 4, 2020 to June 15, 2021.
Water districts that applied to the program through the state are expecting the funding from the program starting in March of 2020. After the company receives the funding they must let their customers know that their account has been credited within 60 days.
If the company applied for this program they can not shut off the customers water without offering them a payment plan according to Emma De La Rosa a policy advocate for Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability
“The main concern that we’re seeing right now is that because the moratorium has been lifted the water companies can shut people off. However, if the water district applied for this program they can not disconnect customers without offering a payment plan and allowing them 30 days to enroll,” said De La Rosa.
Even if the company did not apply for the program De La Rosa said customers can still ask for a payment plan and that it should be included on notices.
“Make sure the water company is offering you that payment plan if they are not offering it to you then make sure you request it,” said De La Rosa. “They cannot simply say you have to pay this whole amount at this time or we will shut you off.
For people who have debt after June 15, 2021 De La Rosa said they will not qualify for the current program, however another program called Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is being developed to help those residents.
People can visit this link to see if their water company applied for this program. https://sdwis.waterboards.ca.gov/PDWW/JSP/AAMap.jsp?