First-in-the-Nation Water Affordability Program Heads to Governor’s Desk
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Today, the California legislature made history by passing SB 222 (Dodd) which will create the first statewide water and sewer rate assistance program in the country.
Statewide low-income assistance programs for energy, food, and healthcare have existed for decades, but nothing similarly universal exists for water and sewer. In the current reality, a family who lacks the ability to pay their water bill faces having their water shutoff. Once this bill is signed and funded, California families, including undocumented families, will be closer to being able to access funds to help pay their water and sewer bills.
Water rates have been rising steeply for years, but affordability challenges will get even worse as more communities make necessary investments in new conservation, recycling, stormwater and other supply projects to prepare for future droughts.
Organizations across the state joined in celebrating this milestone:
“Today, we’re making history by creating a statewide low-income water rate assistance program,” Susana De Anda, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Community Water Center. “For the first time our hardworking families will have access to critical support that will make their water bills affordable. This program brings us one step closer to achieving the Human Right to Water in California.”
“Water and sewer unaffordability has burdened California’s most vulnerable communities for far too long. Passing SB 222 is an exciting step, an important move in the right direction,” says Michael Claiborne, Directing Attorney for Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “Now, we look forward to working with the legislature and Governor to ensure this critically important program is signed and is funded.”
“Governor Newsom has been a leader in implementing the Human Right to Water in California,” said Jennifer Clary, California Director for Clean Water Action. “SB 222 advances the third pillar of the Human Right to Water — affordability — building on the administration’s progress in providing access to safe and sufficient water supplies for the state’s at-risk households.”
“Affordability is crucial for working class communities and communities of color throughout the state including urban areas like Los Angeles and Southeast LA cities,” said Lauren Ahkiam, Director, Water Justice LA Campaign, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “To ensure equitable water access for all, we need investments in sustainable water infrastructure and programs that ensure affordability. Passing SB 222 is an important first step, particularly for undocumented Californians.”
We applaud the legislature for passing SB 222 and now call on Governor Newsom to sign this bill and make water affordability a reality for our families.
Clean Water Action is a national nonprofit founded in 1972 to promote citizen engagement and action to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life. Clean Water Action organizes strong grassroots groups, coalitions and campaigns to solve environmental and community problems. For more information, visit our website at www.cleanwater.org/CA or follow us on Twitter @cleanh2oaction @cleanh2oca.
Community Water Center (CWC) works to ensure that all communities have reliable access to safe, clean, and affordable water. Founded in 2006, CWC is a not-for-profit environmental justice organization, whose mission is to act as a catalyst for community-driven water solutions through education, organizing, and advocacy. Web: www.communitywatercenter.org Twitter: @CWaterC Facebook: @CommunityWaterCenter
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) works to build a new economy rooted in good jobs, thriving communities, and a healthy environment through recharging democracy through grassroots organizing and community-oriented policy. For more information, visit our website at https://laane.org or follow us on Twitter @LAANE.
Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability works alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income and place. We work with community leaders throughout the San Joaquin Valley and Eastern Coachella Valley on such issues as safe affordable drinking water, basic transit services, wastewater services, decent affordable housing, and the right to live free from industrial pollution with infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles. Through co-powerment, organizing, litigation, policy advocacy, and research, we confront California's stark inequalities manifest in too many of California's low income communities and communities of color. Twitter: @LCJandA FB: @lcjacalifornia IG: @leadership_counsel Web: leadershipcounsel.org