Governor Prohibits Water Shutoffs by Urban and Community Water Systems

  • by Heather Engel
  • Apr 7, 2020
  • Water News

In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on April 2 that suspends the authority of urban and community water systems to discontinue residential water service. State law defines an urban and community water system as a “public water system that supplies water to more than 200 service connections.” Public water systems can be public or private entities.

ACWA staff are reviewing the order and already having discussions with the Administration about how the new order will be implemented. ACWA will share more details with members as information becomes available.

The order, which went into effect immediately, includes five operative provisions that are outlined below. It is important to note that the order explicitly states that it does not eliminate the obligation of water customers to pay for water service, prevent a water system from charging a customer for such service, or reduce the amount a customer already may owe to a water system.

Executive Order’s Operative Provisions

  1. The authority of urban and community water systems, as defined in Health and Safety Code section 116902, subdivision (d), to discontinue residential service, as defined in Health and Safety Code section 116902, subdivision (c), for non-payment under Health and Safety Code sections 116908 and 116910, is suspended.
  2. Water systems not subject to the requirements of Health and Safety Code sections 116908 and 116910 shall not discontinue residential service, as defined in Health and Safety Code section 116902, subdivision (c), for non-payment.
  3. Water systems shall restore any residential service to occupied residences that has been discontinued for nonpayment since March 4, 2020.
  4. Water systems shall not discontinue service to any business in the critical infrastructure sectors designated by the State Public Health Officer as critical to protect the health and well-being of all Californians that qualifies as a small business under 13 C.F.R. § 121.201 of the Small Business Administration’s regulations.
  5. The State Water Resources Control Board shall identify best practices, guidelines, or both to be implemented during the COVID-19 emergency (i) to address non-payment or reduced payments, (ii) to promote and to ensure continuity of service by water systems and wastewater systems, and (iii) to provide measures such as the sharing of supplies, equipment and staffing to relieve water systems under financial distress.

ACWA previously encouraged member agencies to proactively suspend water service shutoffs in response to the crisis, and many cities and districts have already taken that step. In addition, ACWA has compiled resources related to the crisis and posted them online at www.acwa.com/covid19.

If you have questions or suggestions regarding the Executive Order, please contact ACWA Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck at CindyT@acwa.com.

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