Resolution calls on the State Water Resources Control Board to Support Stopping Water Shutoffs

The Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County calls on the State Water Resources Control Board to Support Stopping Water Shutoffs

WHEREAS, water shutoffs pose a deadly public health risk. Twenty people died in San Diego in 2017 from the worst Hepatitis A outbreak in state history, a disease that spreads through lack of sanitation. Although the California legislature has stated that  “Every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water” 16,000 households had their water shut off in San Diego in 2016 due to inability to pay; and

WHEREAS, in 2018 the State of California had the largest budget surplus in history, while it gave out billions in tax breaks to the likes of Facebook, Google, Apple and Northrup Grumman. The United Nations recommends a household should pay no more than 3% of its income on water but in California, low-income families pay one-third of their income. A UCLA study commissioned by the State Water Resources Control Board proposes assistance to low-income families, and that the assistance comes from increased taxes or rates on all other ratepayers; and

WHEREAS, the State Water Resources Control Board failed to develop a plan for the funding and implementation of a Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program (LIRA) as was required by February 1, 2018 despite subsequent ratepayer requests, demands and a Public Records Act Request.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County calls on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete the overdue LIRA plan NOW; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County requests the State Water Resources Control Board support the demands of the Western Service Worker’s Association and the San Diego Workers Benefit Council to:

  • Impose an immediate moratorium on water shutoffs statewide
  • Limit the cost of water to 3% of household income
  • Fund LIRA through CA budget surplus or cutting some of the billions in corporate tax breaks – not on the backs of working people!

Passed unanimously by the Democratic Woman’s Club on February 18, 2019.


Notes:

AB 685 (2012) states “Every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water.”

AB 401 (2015) directs that the State Water Resources Control Board “shall develop a plan for the funding and implementation of the Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program,” (LIRA), “no later than” February 1, 2018.

SB 998 (2018) established some regulations on water shutoffs (but prohibits shutoffs only in extreme cases) following years of WSWA’s organizing to stop water shutoffs along with the San Diego Workers Benefit Council (WBC) speaking at hearings.

References: (Added to the original post on Feb 26, 2019)

The number of shutoffs in 2016 is taken from the Public Information Officer of the Public Utilities Department (water department). Every few months, for over a year, a volunteer called the Public Information Officer to requested updated information but they never returned calls. Then a student volunteer researcher was able to dig up the following documents from the water department’s sale of subordinated water revenue bonds. You’ll notice the number of shutoffs began dropping dramatically after the Western Service Worker’s Association went to a second public hearing at the city in 2015.

PUBLIC FACILITIES FINANCING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO SUBORDINATED WATER REVENUE BONDS (PDF)
May 25, 2016, Page 80

TABLE 14. WATER CUSTOMER ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE AND SHUT-OFFS BY FISCAL YEAR Fiscal Years 2011 through 2015

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Shut-Offs 23,271 23,156 19,815 20,079 19.833

PUBLIC FACILITIES FINANCING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO SUBORDINATED WATER REVENUE BONDS, SERIES 2018A (PDF)
December 12, 2018, Page 74

TABLE 15. WATER CUSTOMER ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE AND SHUT-OFFS BY FISCAL YEAR Fiscal Years 2014 through 2018

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Shut-Offs 18,066 17,373 16,642 13,479 8,564

Shut-Offs for non-payment may include multiple shut-offs associated with the same account throughout the Fiscal Year.

Remember there is currently a temporary moratorium on shutoffs due at least in part to billing errors. This accounts for at least some of the dramatic reduction in 2018. However, the water department has yet to tell us when they plan to begin their shutoffs again.

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