Water Conservation Portal - Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program
Affordable Drinking Water - Low-Income Rate Assistance (LIRA) Program
The Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Act established through Assembly Bill 401 (Dodd, 2015) directs the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to prepare a plan, in collaboration with the State Board of Equalization, that covers funding and implementation of a Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. This Plan is due by January 1, 2018. Additionally, AB 401 directs the State Water Board to report to the Legislature by February 1, 2018 on its findings regarding the feasibility, financial stability, and desired structure of the program, including any recommendations for legislative action.
Californian’s have a right to safe water. State policy through AB 685 (2012) aims to ensure universal access to water by declaring that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.” However, water is becoming more expensive. California’s growing economy and population create continued demand for water. Meanwhile, drought and water leaks tighten available supplies. In addition, pipes and aging infrastructure result in expensive repairs or replacements. These conditions contribute to higher costs. The result is that more low-income households have unaffordable drinking water.
As specified in AB 401, the Plan for a Low-Income Rate Assistance Program includes:
- A description of the method for collecting moneys to support and implement the program, with a discussion of any constitutional restrictions on public water agency rate setting.
- A description of the mechanism for providing funding assistance under the program. This could include direct credits to program participants, reimbursements to water service providers, a method for verifying income eligibility of low-income ratepayers, clarification of the role of the Public Utilities Commission and water utilities in determining and verifying customer eligibility, and recommendations regarding the structure of the program.
- A description of the method to be used to determine the amount of moneys that may need to be collected from water ratepayers to fund the program.
- A set of recommendations and best practices that cover cost-savings measures and aim to ensure that water utilities are keeping rates low.
The plan may also include:
- A set of recommendations for other cost-effective methods of offering assistance to low-income water customers besides rate assistance, including billing alternatives, installation of water conservation devices, and leak repair.
- The board may consider the Public Utilities Commission’s “Assessment of Water Utility Low-Income Assistance Programs.”
The report to the legislature will build off the process to develop a Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program and include findings on the feasibility, financial stability, and desired structure of the program, including any recommendations for legislative action.
- Assembly Bill 401 (Dodd, 2015) - Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Act
- Assembly Bill 685 (Eng, 2012) - Human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water
- Summary of Input Received at Public Meetings, Fall 2016 (02/02/17)
- Also see documents listed under specific events (in section below)
- Notice of Opportunity for Public Comments (due by 12:00 pm noon on February 1, 2019)
- Report (draft): Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program
- Appendices (draft)
- Public Comment Letters
- For the OEHHA draft report see "Additional Resources"
- Notice of Water Affordability Symposium (April 5, 2018)
- Notice of Public Meetings Summer 2017 | (en Español) (June 20, June 27, June 28, July 10, July 12, August 10 & August 14)
- Notice of Public Board Workshop, February 8, 2017
- Public Meetings Fall 2016
- Nov 16, 2-3 PM, Conference call on how to make drinking water affordable for low-income Californians, intended for those unable to attend earlier public meetings. Pre-registration is not required. Call-in number: (888) 230-6285.
- Oct 12, Oct 19, Oct 26, Nov 7, Nov 9: Public meetings on how to design a statewide low-income water rate assistance program: (en Español)
- CPUC Low Income Oversight Board (LIOB)
- Drinking Water Needs Assessment Website
- Financial Assistance Programs - Grants and Loans
- Household & Small Water System Drought Assistance (HSWSDA) Program Funding available for individual households (homeowners) or small water systems serving less than 15 connections.
- Office of Sustainable Solutions Financial and technical assistance, particularly for small disadvantaged communities with systems larger than 15 connections.
- Human Right to Water Portal Website
- State Water Board and CPUC Joint Workshop on Safe Drinking Water through Consolidation of Water Systems
- State Water Board Workshop on Access to Sanitation for People Experiencing Homelessness (April 19, 2019)
¹ “Low-income” refers to a household with income that is equal to or no greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline level. For one-person households, program eligibility is based on two-person household guideline levels.
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