CWC joined a coalition of water advocates in submitting a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19, 2020, requesting that he implement an immediate statewide moratorium on water shutoffs, and to take other immediate emergency steps to maintain and restore access to water in vulnerable communities.
We are hearing from residents of disadvantaged communities and low-income households that water shutoffs due to inability to pay water bills are continuing during the state of emergency. We are also hearing from residents with unsafe tap water that bottled water is very difficult to find in stores right now. As one example, residents of communities in Tulare County currently lack access to safe water due to a change in the administrator of their state-funded bottled water delivery program, and residents have told us that it has been nearly impossible to find replacement water in local stores. This is proving true for many small communities that depend on corner stores for day to day needs.
As such, we asked as a follow-up to his executive order dated March 16, 2020 that he take the following additional actions to protect access to water for Californians:
1. Require immediate restoration of water service to all residential homes impacted by water shutoff before or during this state of emergency.
2. Institute a statewide moratorium on residential water shutoffs during the term of the state of emergency.
3. Direct the State Water Resources Control Board, with the assistance of the Office of Emergency Services, to establish emergency drinking water distribution and delivery programs to ensure that all Californians, especially those without safe tap water and those experiencing homelessness, have access to drinking water during this crisis.
4. Direct the State Water Resources Control Board to provide emergency assistance to small water systems impacted by nonpayment of water bills during the state of emergency.
5. Require state/local agency replacement water programs to streamline eligibility requirements and provide emergency funding as needed to make these programs accessible to as many people as possible.
6. Direct the State Water Resources Control Board to suspend payments on state revolving fund loans for financially-challenged water systems.
7. Direct relevant state agencies to encourage Californians with safe tap water or adequate filtration systems not to purchase unnecessary quantities of bottled water from stores, as many Californians rely on bottled water as their only source of safe water for drinking, cooking and sanitation.