League of California Cities logoThe state is extending a payment program for water and wastewater arrearages that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Water Resources Control Board expects to disburse the funding to eligible applicants, including cities, in February 2024.

The pandemic made it difficult for many Californians to pay their bills due to job loss and other hardships. This in turn created significant financial impacts for cities and local water agencies. Securing funding for budget shortfalls has been a top priority for the League of California Cities.

As part of the 2023 budget deal, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget trailer bill expanding the arrearages payment program. This expansion extends the relief period from June 15, 2021, to December 31, 2022. The state Legislature allocated $600 million in federal funding for the program.

The extended arrearage program will include both water and wastewater debt from residential and commercial customers.

This funding is not competitive. However, if the total amount requested exceeds the amount available, the state will reimburse applicants proportionately. The state may also prioritize the timing of the payments to applicants serving rural and disadvantaged communities.

The application period runs through Dec 31, 2023.

The State Water Board created the California Water and Wastewater Arrearages Payment Program to provide relief to community water and wastewater systems for unpaid bills caused by the pandemic. Customers cannot apply for relief through the Extended Arrearage Program. However, relief may be available through the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program.