Assemblymember Dodd Calls For Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program

Dodd-BillAssemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 401, which calls on the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) to develop a plan for a statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program.

“The time has come to develop a comprehensive program to help relieve the financial burden on low-income households dealing with significant increases in the cost of water,” Assemblymember Bill Dodd said.

Over time, water districts across California have slowly raised the average cost of water in order to maintain and upgrade water treatment and delivery systems. In some cases water rates have jumped over 300% since 2006. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Lake County community of Lucerne, where the average water residential ratepayer pays nearly $1,300 annually, and many pay significantly more than that. According to measurements of water affordability used by the California Department of Public Health, this average rate is roughly triple the affordability threshold for this community, where the median income is just half of the state average.

While current California law requires gas and electric companies to provide discounted rates for low-income rate payers, there is currently no requirement for water companies to provide discounted rates. A number of the larger water utilities in California have Low-Income Rate Assistance programs, but there is no statewide standard and the discounts currently provided can leave many people, specifically seniors, with little real benefit.

“We need to ensure that we have an efficient, sustainable, and equitable water system in California.” said Assemblymember Dodd. “This bill is one piece of that broader puzzle, and I will continue to work for smart water policy in Sacramento.”

AB 401 would require the CSD to develop a plan for the funding and implementation of a low-income water rate assistance program by 2017. Senator Mike McGuire joined Assemblymember Dodd in introducing the legislation and will be a principal co-author of the bill. This announcement follows Assemblymember Dodd’s introduction last week of legislation to help restore Clear Lake’s wetlands, maintain its water quality, and preserve its ecosystem.

Assemblymember Bill Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Yolo, Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Solano, and Colusa Counties.

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