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Delinquent Water Bills Could Create Problems For Consumers, Providers

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Water from a faucet at the public restroom at Lake Poway, Dec. 2, 2019.

California’s state water board is warning that residents and water agencies are facing financial pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials estimate 1.6 million California households have delinquent water bills. They say that adds up to $1 billion in debt.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Water cannot be shut off to delinquent customers right now, but consumer advocates worry that could change.

“If you have 12% of the population behind on their water bills and you expect them to pay within 60 days of the state of emergency being lifted, we’re foreseeing potential hundreds of thousands of people having their water shut off,” said Jennifer Clary of the group Clean Water.

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The outstanding bills are a financial threat to both the customers who are obligated to pay and the water agencies that need the money to operate.

It is complicated by the fact that water prices continue to climb.

“Our water rates between 2007 and 2015 increased by about 47%,” said California State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa.

Dodd is pushing legislation that will help delinquent customers pay their bills and to extend the moratorium on water shutoffs.

Reported by Erik Anderson

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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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