Californian’s should finally start to see some relief from past due water bills. The State Water Resources Control Board sent out the first round of checks to community water systems to cover debt accrued when customers could not pay their water bills due to COVID-19-related financial hardships.
The checks mark the first batch of payments under the $1 billion California Water and Wastewater Arrearages Payment Program. The State Water Board will distribute funds through Jan. 31, 2022, prioritizing small water systems first. Water systems must apply for funding before Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. to participate.
Funding is available to water systems to cover residential and commercial accounts that are 60 days or more behind on payments for debt accrued between March 4, 2020 and June 15, 2021. As a condition of receiving the funds, participating systems must credit their customers’ accounts within 60 days of receiving funds and notify them that their water bill debt has been cleared or reduced.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on California in many ways, but we are proud of the fact that Californians who suffered financial hardships during this period have not faced water shutoffs and that this program is relieving the burden of water debt,” said Darrin Polhemus, deputy director of the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water. “These checks help both customers and water systems get through this difficult time, especially small systems in disadvantaged communities that already face
To date, about 170 systems have applied for arrearages funding totaling $24.8 million, and this number increases daily as more applications are received.