October 31, Oakland, California — When a person fails to pay their water utility bill, their water service can be disconnected. Lack of water in the home compromises health, and renders housing legally uninhabitable and untenantable. Shutoffs also pose a financial burden; in addition to the original debt, there are usually fees associated with late payment, notice of an impending shutoff, and service reconnection.
A new fact sheet from the Pacific Institute surveys California water utilities and summarizes practices and fees associated with water shutoffs in the state. It includes recommendations for water utilities to reduce shutoff rates and increase revenue collection by improving debt and service disconnection practices. The recommendations would allow some residents to avoid water shutoffs, thereby supporting public health and housing security.
“Water shutoffs in California are a lose-lose proposition,” says co-author Laura Feinstein. “They prevent access to water and sanitation for Californians and they result in lost revenue for utilities. A few water utilities are already implementing some of the policies outlines in this fact sheet, and given their success, we believe greater uptake could substantially decrease the number water service disconnections in the state.”
Read more about the facts sheet and download a copy here.