Delinquent Water Bills Could Create Problems For Consumers, Providers
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.
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.