Thursday, 09 February 2023

Sen. Dodd introduces bill expanding water shutoff protections

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation on Monday to expand provisions of his Water Shutoff Protection Act, ensuring more low-income Californians have uninterrupted access to essential drinking water, especially in times of skyrocketing costs.

“Access to water is a fundamental right and we must ensure the tap does not get turned off just because someone falls behind on their bills,” Sen. Dodd said. “This proposal enhances my previous legislation by covering people in smaller, rural communities who are struggling financially. It will allow them to continue using water for drinking, cooking and necessities such as washing clothes while they get caught up on missed payments.”

Sen. Dodd has a long history of water-related legislation. In response to rising water rates, he authored the Water Shutoff Protection Act of 2018, which extends due process protections to people at risk of service discontinuance because they are unable to pay their bills. Among other things, it affords those served by water systems of 200 customers or more a 60-day grace period to cover past debt and establishes a system for making payments. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Now, with Senate Bill 3, Sen. Dodd is proposing to extend those same protections to more people, reducing the threshold for compliance to water systems of 15 customers or more. The change is expected to affect thousands of low-income families across California and extends an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom that has expired. SB 3 is sponsored by Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

“Access to drinking water is a human right held by all Californians regardless of the size of the community in which they live,” said Michael Claiborne, directing attorney of Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “SB 3 would help to make this principle a reality by extending existing commonsense water shutoff protections, including notice and access to payment plans, to households served by very small community water systems.”

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