News Brief: Bill would block sudden water service shut-offs

State lawmakers approved a new bill that would protect low-income households from having sudden interruptions to their water services.
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Senate Bill 998 would require urban and community water service providers to have a written policy on discontinuing water service. The policy would have to include a plan for deferred or reduced payments, alternative payment schedules and a way for a customer to dispute water service charges. The proposed legislation would also give residents at least 60 days to pay off a delinquent bill without having their water service interrupted. It would forbid water service providers from shutting off water service due to non-payment if a customer can prove that they are unable to pay for the service, are a household that earns less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level and if the customer is willing to enter into a deferred or alternative payment schedule with the provider. “Access to water is a fundamental right of all Californians and we must protect it now and for generations to come,” Sen. Bill Dodd (D., Napa) said in a press release. “We simply cannot cut off water service to poor families just because they have fallen on hard times.” The bill, which now heads to the governor’s desk for a signature, comes shortly after the Winters City Council approved a rate increase on water and sewer services. If signed, water providers like the City of Winters will have until 2020 to comply with the new law.]]>

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