Provides information in seven languages to tenants and homeowners on what to do if they lose water or utilities.
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert today reminding municipal and community water providers of requirements under the Water Shutoff Protection Act to protect California tenants and homeowners affected by water shut-off. Since the start of 2022, water rates have increased by 40%, making it difficult for many Californians to stay on top of their water bills. Loss of water service can lead to increased health risks and possible evictions. In a legal alert today, Attorney General Bonta warned water suppliers to end all water shutoffs that do not comply with the Water Shutdown Act. Attorney General Bonta also issued a consumer alert in English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean advising Californians of what they can do if they are behind on their electricity, water or other utility bills.
“Right now, many California families are struggling to put food on the table, pay their rent or mortgage, and keep up with their credit and debt,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “If you’re behind on your utility or water bill, you have options. California law requires most utility and water providers to work with you to keep your lights and faucets on. run. I urge Californians to know their rights, and to get help if they are faced with a utility and water shutoff. My office is committed to promoting people’s basic rights. of California to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water, and we are issuing legal guidance today to ensure that water providers understand their responsibilities to Californians under the Protection Act Stop Water.”
“Access to water is a fundamental right for all Californians,” said State Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa. “That’s why I wrote the Water Shutoff Protection Act, which creates a sustainable and fair framework to protect low-income people as well as the elderly, children and those with illnesses or disabilities. I am grateful to Attorney General Bonta for his leadership in ensuring that the tap is kept on for our most vulnerable populations, especially as people struggle with the cost of inflation.
Provisions Under the Water Conservation Act
The Water Shutoff Act contains several new provisions for shutting off water service. Most water suppliers:
- Service cannot be terminated if the customer’s bill is more than 60 days past due.
- Notice must be given at least seven days prior to the termination of water services, and efforts must be made to give this notice if telephone and written notice are unsuccessful.
- It is not possible to terminate the service for customers who meet certain medical and financial requirements and require a different payment.
- A plan for delayed or reduced payments, alternative payment schedules, and a formal process for consumers to contest or appeal bills should be available to customers affected by the water shutoff.
- Report annually to the State Water Resources Management Board on water shutdowns due to inability to pay and post information on the water supplier’s website, if any.
What to do if you are behind on water bills
- Get information from your Water Supplier: California law prohibits most water suppliers from shutting off your water unless your bill is 60 days past due. The water supplier must contact you by phone and mail at least seven business days before your water is shut off, and they must post their water shut-off policy on their website.
- Talk to your water supplier about a payment plan: Most water suppliers have a separate payment plan. You have the right to discuss options with your water supplier to prevent the water from being shut off.
- Get help paying your water bill in advance: Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a one-time payment on your water or wastewater bill through the Low Income Housing Water Assistance Program. Additionally, if you receive benefits such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or SSI, or if your income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level, your water provider must waive the Interest is charged once every 12 months.
What to do if you are behind on other equipment payments
- Ask Your Utility Provider for a Pricing Plan: Most private utility companies offer a payment plan that gives you more time to pay off your debt. You can’t close your account once you agree to a payment plan, and it must remain as long as you are paying correctly. If you get your utilities from your city, county, or other local government, check with your utility provider for payment plan options.
- Sign up for low gas and electricity bills: If you get your appliances from a private company, you may be able to get discounts on your electric and gas bills, depending on your income, through California’s CARE program or the Family Rate Assistance program Or electricity. If you get your utilities from a city, county, or other local government, call the number on your bill or visit your provider’s website to learn about monthly rates. for low-income families.
- Other protections for life-threatening conditions: If you experience a power outage, contact your provider immediately. You have other options, and your provider will schedule an in-person visit to determine the situation before shutting off your electricity.
If you believe your water supplier or utility is violating the law, please submit a report at oag.ca.gov/report. If you have a complaint about a water shutoff or a utility owned by an investor, you can also contact your State Water Board or the California Public Utilities Commission.